BBC BLOGS - Piers Edwards

Archives for March 2010

The struggle of African coaches

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Piers Edwards | 15:09 UK time, Friday, 26 March 2010

Ever since South Africa was awarded the 2010 World Cup, the organisers' oft-repeated desire has been for a pan-African World Cup.

On the coaching front, they are going to be disappointed because Algerian Rabah Saadane will stick out like a sore thumb in June as the only African coach among the continent's six finalists.

It would have been two but Nigeria's Shaibu Amodu was forced out after the Nations Cup earlier this year. We can also safely predict that the Ivory Coast's new coach won't be African, with Mark Hughes, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Bernd Schuster apparently the three main contenders.

A look at Africa's World Cup history, not to mention tradition, should have prepared us for such a reality.

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Inter prospect breaks new ground

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Piers Edwards | 16:28 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Amid the hullabaloo surrounding Jose Mourinho's return to Chelsea on Tuesday, there was one player at Stamford Bridge who also has claims to be a 'special one'.

The moment may have gone unnoticed in London but not in Nairobi where McDonald Mariga's mum was blowing, yes, a vuvuzela as her son became the first Kenya - and the first East African - to play in the Champions League.

Matilda Mariga, whose husband Noah is a former Kenya international, was at home in their apartment (paid for by the Inter Milan player) as 15-20 friends and neighbours squeezed in to watch one of the building's few satelliteTVs.

And just five minutes from time, they were all jumping around when Mariga, 22, finally made his appearnace as a substitute for the excellent Wesley Sneijder.

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Drogba a surprise choice

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Piers Edwards | 16:57 UK time, Friday, 12 March 2010

I am, I have to confess, slightly surprised by the choice of Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba as the CAF African Footballer of 2009.

The Chelsea star won the prestigious prize for the second time on Thursday night although many experts expected to see Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o win it for the fourth time.

The Ivorian was crowned Africa's best by a poll of the continent's coaches, who nominated Drogba (92 points) above both Eto'o (69) and local boy Michael Essien (43) at Thursday's award ceremony in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

One could, of course, ask whether this was really Drogba's third title. He was tipped to win in 2007, but missed the awards ceremony in Togo (which came 48 hours before a crucial 2008 Nations Cup quarter-final).

The prize went to Mali's Frederic Kanoute with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) later stating: "Any player who is absent at [the] award ceremony will not be taken into consideration in placements of African footballer of the year."

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Beating Egypt will not help England

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Piers Edwards | 15:19 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

England played Egypt as a way of warming up for their World Cup clash with Algeria on 18 June, so one wonders what exactly coach Fabio Capello learnt about North African opposition after his side's 3-1 win.

For his players, the experience would have been invaluable because England haven't faced such opposition since beating Morocco 1-0 in 1998 - a game only Michael Owen is likely to remember from among the current squad.

And although England underperformed early on, they will be grateful for a decent test since the Pharaohs put together some fine moves as they fulfilled, in spells, their aim of showing that the 2010 World Cup will be a poorer place without them.

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