African Cup of Nations - Local and foreign coaches vie for supremacy

There is a heavy French influence in the coaching ranks at this year's African Nations Cup finals, but unusually some of the continent's heavyweights have plumped for local expertise to lead their squads.

The majority of the 16 finalists are employing an expatriate coach at the tournament in South Africa, with seven hailing from France and one from Belgium.

A single South American, Uruguay's Gustavo Ferrin in charge of Angola, continues a trend of African sides moving away from seeking coaches to help them play a more flamboyant style.

Some of the continent's heavyweights, however, have now shunned the foreigners they previously preferred.

Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria and hosts South Africa all have their own nationals at the helm, after expensive imports failed to deliver in recent tournaments.

"There is a time now for the local coaches to be given a chance at the highest level," said South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani in a recent interview.

Morocco's Rachid Taoussi has only been in his post since September, having replaced Belgian Eric Gerets, who arrived amid high expectations but was unable to make the most of a talent-laden squad.

There remains, however, a heavy French influence in Nations Cup dressing rooms.

Franco-German coach Gernot Rohr has been in charge of Niger for only three months, but has experience from the last Nations Cup when he was in charge of co-hosts Gabon.

The other French connections are provided by Bosnian-born Vahid Halilhodzic (Algeria), Herve Renard (Zambia), Patrice Calderon (Mali), Sabri Lamouchi (Ivory Coast), Didier Six (Togo) and Democratic Republic of Congo's Claude Leroy, who is competing in a record seventh tournament.

It was Le Roy who famously coined the term 'Club Med coaches' as a slur on the approach of those who led African national teams but only flew in for the matches and never took time to immerse themselves in the local culture.

"It is important to understand and learn the richness of the culture. It is a privilege to be part of the passion for the game that Africa has," he said.

The influence of foreign coaches has been palpable since the early days of the tournament over half a century ago, but they have won only half of the 28 previous tournaments.

For a young ambitious coach, Africa offers a potential springboard, as was the case with Carlos Alberto Parreira who led Ghana as a 28-year-old in 1970. He went on to win the World Cup with his own country Brazil 24 years later.

Renard won the Nations Cup with Zambia in 2012 less than a decade after he ran an office cleaning business in his home town of Aix-les-Bains in France.

"I took out the rubbish for eight years and now I'm the winning coach in the African Nations Cup. Soccer is magical," he said after last year's success.