The AFCON 2023 semifinals this week represent a massive opportunity for the coaches leading the four remaining teams. South Africa’s Hugo Broos, Nigeria’s José Peseiro, Ivory Coast’s Emerse Fae and DR Congo’s Sébastien Desabre all have the chance to write their names into African football history.
For Broos, victory over Nigeria would make the Belgian closer to becoming the second coach after Herve Renard to win the AFCON with two different nations. Broos led Cameroon to the 2017 title and now aims to end South Africa’s 28-year AFCON drought.
Nigeria coach Peseiro can emerge from the shadow of his successful predecessors by qualifying the Super Eagles for the final. Given Nigeria’s AFCON pedigree, it would be a major achievement.
Ivorian coach Fae was only appointed caretaker after the group stage. But the man known as “Coach Hamburger” for his love of burgers has the chance to become an AFCON sensation if he guides Ivory Coast past DR Congo.
Finally, French coach Desabre could create history for DR Congo by leading them to the final for the first time since their 1974 triumph. DR Congo have won the AFCON twice before in 1968 and 1974 but never with a foreign manager.
Beyond personal glory, these coaches understand the enormity of AFCON success for their nations. Broos and Desabre in particular want to reward two passionate fanbases that have waited decades to celebrate again.
With the stakes high, all four tacticians face pressure to get their gameplans and personnel selections right. But if they can instill belief and motivation in their teams, AFCON immortality awaits.