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Who coaches who at AfroBasket 2015
SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda's African Message) - In the past few months, a lot more people started to discuss the issue of the appointment of head coaches for AfroBasket 2015, which will take place in Tunisia from 19 to 30 August.
When they ask me about it, I usually prefer to say that this has become a very complex issue.
In some cases, what seems to be a fact today may not be the case tomorrow.
As a journalist, I often talk to coaching staff, players and officials to find out more about their plans, ideas and intentions.
But when it comes to talking to them during national teams' off-season, many coaches don't have much to talk about because most sign short-term contracts.
A couple of weeks ago, I contacted someone who had been appointed head coach of an African youth national team. His first reaction was: "I don't know what to tell you because I don't know if I am still the coach". I was speechless for a while as he was yet to start his job in charge of the team. Eventually he returned my call and we resumed our conversation.
In this column, I'll try to show you the current coaching situation of 13 national teams already qualified for AfroBasket 2015. It should be noted that three other teams will round out the 16-team event through a process of attribution of wild cards.
The Angolan Basketball Federation used to name their head coach around the end of the national championship in May. But, this year, they may have sensed a need for an early start, signing Spaniard Moncho Lopez in February. He replaced former Angola international Paulo Macedo.
Former Cape Verde international Rodrigo Mascarenhas has served as caretaker coach, and successfully helped Cape Verde qualify for the most prestigious tournament in Africa. In his words to me, Mascarenhas would rather leave the position for someone more experienced, but would accept to continue at the helm of the islanders if the national federation wanted him to.
Olivier Tea led the "Elephants" during the two-game qualifier against Benin. Toure Boubakari, the Chairman of the country's basketball federation, has hinted the need of adding more experience to the team, whatever that means.
Amr Aboul Kheir led Egypt to an unexpected second-place at AfroBasket 2013, but after a modest 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup campaign, in which they lost all their five games, the Egyptian Basketball Federation picked Josep 'Pepe' Claros as their new coach. But last month they decided to work with a national coach, choosing former Olympian Ahmed Marei.
Nevertheless, Marei and the federation are yet to formalise their agreement.
Mohamed Tangara called Frenchman Sylvain Lautie a genius who helped lead Mali during the qualifiers against Senegal. Lautie has replaced Jose Ruiz.
Moroccan Said Bouzidi led Morocco in the three-team FIBA Africa Zone 1 qualifier against Libya and neighbouring Algeria in February, but stepped down last month. The Royal Moroccan Basketball Federation is keen to bring Lazare Adingono, but the agreement is yet to be formalised.
Mozambican Horacio Martins has replaced his countryman Milagre Macome at the helm of Southern African country. Martins helped Mozambique to finish second in the South-African Four Nations tournament in March.
Although Nigerian Sani Ahmed is an experienced coach, who has served as assistant coach to Ayodele Bakare on a number of occasions, including at the 2012 London Olympics, the man who coached the Nigerian team that won the 2011 All-African Games, might face some competition to remain as head coach. After all, Nigeria is one of the most desired teams for coaches from around the world. Potential candidates, I am told, may include former Nigeria international Ime Udoka and former Cape Verde coach Alex Nwora, just to mention a few.
Tunisia's Adel Tlatli is the longest serving head coach among African national teams. The Tunisian first took over in 2001, but remained in the charge for only five months. The Tunisia Basketball Federation re-appointed Tlatli in April 2004 and he has been in charge ever since.
Ugandan coach Mandy Juruni and his assistant Gad Eteu led the country to a second-place in the FIBA Africa Zone 5 qualifier last September, and will be joined by Paul Johnson, an American tactician who worked in a volunteering basketball programme in the country two years ago.
Zimbabwean Chewy Gilbert made history a couple of months ago by qualifying Zimbabwe to their first AfroBasket.
When I asked Addison Chiware, the Chairman of the Basketball Union of Zimbabwe, about the team's preparations, he said: "The plan is in play. We are happy to play against Africa’s finest. We hope to our best at our maiden appearance and meet our goal of continuous improvement."
As we are just three months away from the African Championship, this list of coaches might be affected, or not.
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