AFCON 2023: Meet the head coaches

Edwin  - CEO January 9, 2024
Updated 2024/01/09 at 6:57 PM
19 Min Read

TotalEnergies CAF AFCON: Group A



The TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, kicks off on Saturday, January 13, 2024, with the opening clash between the host country, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea-Bissau.


The two teams from Group A will clash at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpe.


Group A comprises Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Nigeria, each led by renowned and charismatic coaches.


Here’s an overview of the coaches of the teams in Group A.


Côte d’Ivoire: Jean Louis Gasset (69 years)


Jean Louis Gasset was appointed as the head coach of the Ivorian national team in May 2022, replacing Patrice Beaumelle, whose contract was not renewed after a disappointing CAN campaign in Cameroon, where the Elephants were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Egypt (0-0, 5-4 on penalties).


The 69-year-old French tactician guides the host nation in this competition. The mission the Ivorian Football Federation assigned him was crystal clear.


“Our goal with Gasset is to win the next CAN, or at least reach the semi-finals; otherwise, his contract will not be renewed for another year,” stated Ivorian football chief Idriss Diallo during a press conference in Abidjan.


Despite his first experience leading a national team, Jean Louis Gasset can rely on his extensive coaching background, having managed several French clubs, including Montpellier, Saint-Etienne, and Bordeaux.


He also assisted Laurent Blanc in Bordeaux with the French national team and Paris Saint-Germain.


At home, the Elephants, under his guidance, will strive to lift a third continental trophy following their successes in 1992 in Senegal and 2015 in Equatorial Guinea.


Nigeria: José Peseiro (63 years)


José Peseiro has been at the helm of the Nigerian national team since May 2022, taking over from Austin Eguavoen.


The 63-year-old Portuguese manager faces the challenging task of leading the Super Eagles in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire, where the country aspires to a better performance than the last edition in Cameroon, where Tunisia surprisingly eliminated them in the round of 16.


To achieve the goals set by Nigerian football authorities, José Peseiro can draw on his rich experience, having previously served as the head coach of Saudi Arabia (2009-2011) and Venezuela (2020-2021) and managed Portuguese clubs Braga, Porto, and Sporting Portugal.


With him, Nigeria aims for a fourth continental crown after triumphs in 1980, 1994, and 2013.


Equatorial Guinea: Juan Micha (48 years)


Confirmed as the head coach of Equatorial Guinea in March 2021 after a five-month interim period, Juan Obiang Micha will lead the Nzalang Nacional at the TotalNEergies CAF AFCON for the second consecutive edition.


In the 2021 edition in Cameroon, he achieved a sensational run with his team, reaching the quarterfinals after eliminating Mali in round 16 and defeating Algeria in the group stage.


At 48, Juan Michá Obiang Bicogo is a former Equato-Guinean footballer who played for his country in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


He began coaching at Fuenlabrada in Spain before joining the Equatorial Guinean women’s national team as an assistant coach from 2012 to 2014.


Before becoming the interim head coach of Equatorial Guinea in late 2020 and subsequently confirmed in March 2021, he also coached the country’s U17 and U20 teams, as well as Deportivo Unidad, a club based in Malabo.


He aims to surpass the 2015 performance at home, the year of Nzalang Nacional’s best-ever finish in the competition (fourth place).


Guinea-Bissau: Baciro Cande (57 years)


Baciro Cande (57 years) has been in charge of the Guinea-Bissau national team since 2016. This year in Côte d’Ivoire, he will lead his country in its fourth TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations.


A former defender, he played for Estrela de Amadora and Amara in Portugal before starting a coaching career.


This marks his second stint at the helm of Djurtus after an initial tenure between 2001 and 2009. In the meantime, he also coached Sporting Clube de Bissau (2009-2016), leading them to a league title in 2010.


In 2023, he undoubtedly aspires to guide his team beyond the first round, a stage they have never surpassed in three previous participations (2017, 2019, 2021).


Group C



– Group C teams are led by three former African internationals and one Belgian coach
– Coaches from Cameroon and Senegal have previously been crowned in the CAF Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations.
– Tom Saintfiet relies on his extensive African experience to make Gambia shine.


The TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire is rapidly approaching, stirring up excitement and enthusiasm across all African nations.


The honor of hosting the opening ceremony of this prestigious continental event, now in its 34th edition, on January 13, 2024, goes to the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium.


The battle looks tough in Group C, consisting of Cameroon, Senegal, Guinea, and Gambia. In anticipation of this grand event, sheds light on the coaches of this group based in Yamoussoukro.


Senegal: Aliou Cissé (47 years)

Senegalese coach Aliou Cissé is a former Senegalese international who excellently represented the “Lions of Teranga.” Known for his defensive rigor, he played a crucial role in the Senegalese defense for many years.


Aliou Cissé has participated in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations as a player and a coach. Unfortunate finalist in 2002 against Cameroon in Mali, he finally won the title as a coach in the 2021 edition.

Having played for several French and English clubs, Aliou Cissé ended his playing career in 2009 before transitioning to coaching.


In 2012, he became the assistant coach of the Senegalese U-23 team, later becoming the head coach of the same category until 2015.


That year, he was appointed head coach of the Senegal national team. In February 2022, he made history by giving Senegal its first-ever TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations trophy.


He hopes to retain the title this year in Côte d’Ivoire, possibly as a payback to the Ivorians who took the trophy from Senegal in the 1992 edition.


Cameroon: Rigobert Song (47 years)

The Cameroonian team, one of the perennial favorites with five titles, is led by Rigobert Song, who has already shone as a player and captain of the team before transitioning to the sidelines.


He won the 2000 and 2002 editions with his country and will experience his first coaching stint in the competition. During his playing career, the 47-year-old coach represented several French, English, and Turkish clubs.

Shortly after being appointed head of the Indomitable Lions, Rigobert Song succeeded in qualifying Cameroon for the last FIFA World Cup in Qatar, eliminating Algeria in the playoffs. He is eager to create another sensation on Ivorian soil in this Africa Cup of Nations.


Guinea: Kaba Diawara (48 years)

The Guinean national football team is led by Kaba Diawara, who initially represented the French U-21 team before joining his country of origin.


He participated several times as a player in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations. At the helm of the Guinean selection, he will participate in his second AFCON after the 2021 edition in Cameroon, aspiring to etch his name in history.

As a player, Kaba Diawara distinguished himself with various French and English clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, Olympique de Marseille, Arsenal, and West Ham.


He also played in Turkey before ending his playing career in 2009. Kaba Diawara has been directing the Guinean team since October 2021.


The last Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon was his first significant experience as a football coach.


Gambia: Tom Saintfiet (51 years)

Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet is one of the best non-African coaches in Africa, with extensive experience leading several African clubs and national teams.

Tom Saintfiet had a brief playing career before hanging up his boots at 24. His coaching career began in Belgium, but he quickly traveled across Africa, coaching several clubs and national teams, including Malawi, Togo, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

The Belgian coach relies on his vast experience and perfect understanding of African football to make an impact with the Gambian team, which already surprised as quarter-finalists in the 2021 edition in Cameroon.


Group E



  • Three of the four nations are led by former footballers.
  • Namibia’s Collin Benjamin, the youngest of all four coaches
  • Tunisia and South Africa are the two former champions in the group


Abidjan’s Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara officially kicks off the biggest event on African soil, the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023 on Saturday.


With all 24 nations raring to go for Africa’s most treasured football prize, CAFOnline looks at the men in the driving seats and looks to navigate their way past a tough Group E pool.


All teams, except Tunisia, will be led by coaches who have once laced the boots and are now behind the tactics board as head coaches.


GROUP E: Tunisia, Mali, South Africa, Namibia


Korhogo’s Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly plays host to Group E, which consists of two former African champions who both coincidentally won it on home soil.


Tunisia (2004) and South Africa (1996) are the former champions in the group, while Mali’s best finish was in 1972 when they lost in the final against Congo.


The Brave Warriors of Namibia are making their fourth appearance and hoping to go beyond the group stages for the first time.


Meet the Coaches:


Tunisia – Jalel Kadri (52)


Jalal Kadri temporarily took over the Tunisian coaching reins during the TotalEnergies AFCON 2021 in Cameroon after the then head coach, Mondher Kebaier, contracted COVID-19 just days before Tunisia’s Round of 16 ties against Nigeria, which he guided the team to a 1-0 victory over the three-time champions.


Despite bowing out of the 2021 edition in the quarterfinals against Burkina Faso, Kadri qualified the team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and will be looking to draw from both experiences when leading his side in Cote d’Ivoire.


Mali – Eric Chelle (46)


Born in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 46 years ago, Eric Chelle will compete in his first-ever TotalEnergies AFCON as a manager in his native country.


Following an incredibly successful playing career in France, which includes stints with Valenciennes and Racing Club de Lens, Chelle shifted focus to the tactics board and had his first coaching assignment in 2016 with French club GS Consolat.


In May 2022, the former defender was appointed head coach of Mali and will have the tough assignment of leading the Eagles in Cote d’Ivoire.



South Africa – Hugo Broos (71)


Guided Cameroon to their fifth TotalEnergies AFCON title in 2017, coach Hugo Broos will be at the helm of a South African side desperate for continental success, having last won the title in 1996.


Undoubtedly, the team has seen a significant improvement since the taking over of the Belgian tactician, leading them to their 11th TotalEnergies AFCON appearance after last making an appearance in Egypt during the 2019 edition.


A fan of blending youth and experience in his squads, Broos will be looking at replicating his 2017 success with a young generation of Bafana Bafana.


Namibia – Collin Benjamin (45)


Namibia is preparing to make its fourth TotalEnergies AFCON appearance and has yet to make it beyond the competition’s group stages. Comfortably carrying the underdog’s tag, under Collin Benjamin, the Brave Warriors have one of Africa’s most astute coaches looking to make a name for himself following a successful playing career in Germany.


At 45, Benjamin is the youngest coach in the group. He will be looking to outsmart his more experienced counterparts during the group stages and make history for his nation by going past the group stages.


Group F

  • One local coach and three expatriates will be on the sidelines in Group F of the CAN 2023
  • Walid Regragui is the only coach to lead an African team to the semi-finals of a World Cup.
  • It will be the first AFCON as a coach for Adel Amrouche with Tanzania.


In a few days, the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium will host the kickoff of the 34th edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Côte d’Ivoire 2023. takes a closer look at the coaches in contention. Group F of the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON features four teams with different playing styles. And with seasoned tacticians whose paths and methods are opposed. Let’s explore.


Avram Grant (69 years)


He made a name for himself in the English Premier League at Chelsea, reaching the final of the 2008 UEFA Champions League.


However, Avram Grant’s first challenge on the continent was Ghana, where he led from 2014 to 2017. He managed to take the Black Stars to the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON final in 2015 against Côte d’Ivoire (lost on penalties 8-9, 0-0 after extra time).


Having been at the helm of Zambia for a year, the Israeli Grant revitalizes Chipolopolo, aiming to recreate winning the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON finals in 2012.


Sébastien Desabre (48 years)


The French technician is a seasoned traveler of the continent. His first appearance dates back to 2010 with ASEC Mimosas in Côte d’Ivoire.


Since then, he has managed numerous clubs in Tunisia, Angola, Algeria, Cameroon, Morocco, and Egypt. Sébastien Desabre qualified Uganda for its first TotalEnergies CAF AFCON in over 30 years in 2019 in Egypt, achieving a historic place in the round of 16 (eliminated by Senegal).


Despite being dismissed after the competition, his journey earns him a rebound with the Leopards of the DR Congo for the past two years. Renowned for his tactical prowess, Desabre is a leader of men, precisely what the Leopards need to restore their reputation.


Adel Amrouche (56 years)


Since his debut as a coach on the continent, moving through Equatorial Guinea, Kenya, Libya, and Botswana, Adel Amrouche has never had the opportunity to participate in the TotalEnergies CAF AFCON.


This will now be the chance in Côte d’Ivoire for the Belgian-Algerian coach with Tanzania, where he joined in March 2023. Amrouche can rely on a group of players whose potential has evolved over the years, symbolized by Taifa Stars’ star, Mbwana Samatta.


Walid Regragui (49 years)


For his first experience as the coach of a national team, Walid Regragui made a strong impact by guiding Morocco to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.


Since then, expectations have been high around the former Atlas Lion. However, Regragui remains level-headed. He has a quality squad and ensures that his message resonates well.


For his second TotalEnergies CAF AFCON with Morocco, Regragui has only one ambition: to go as far as possible and lay hands on the trophy.



Please follow and like us:
Share this Article
Leave a comment