Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said more African coaches are needed to take football on the continent to the next level and develop teams capable of challenging for the World Cup.
Brazilian great Pele predicted in 1977 that an African team would win the tournament by 2000 but returns have been disappointing, with only three quarter-final appearances by African teams in the event’s history.
Cisse’s 2002 Senegal side were one of those, along with Cameroon in 1990 and Ghana in 2010.
The dreadlocked 42-year-old said players from those teams were now turning to coaching and could provide a crucial boost to African football.
“I represent a new generation that would like to have its place among African football and world football,” he said.
“We’re good players with pasts as professional football players and are very good tactically. We have the right to be among the top international coaches.”
Cisse, whose Senegal side open their World Cup campaign in Russia with a Group H clash against Poland on Tuesday, said African teams would eventually be as successful as the European and South American giants.
“I am certain that one day an African team, an African country, will win the World Cup,” he said.
But he said it would take time, adding: “It’s a bit more complicated in our countries. We face realities that are not there in other continents.”
“But Africa is full of quality and we’re on the way,” he said. “We fully trust our football, we have no complexes.
“You see lots of African players in European clubs, now we need African coaches for our continent to go ahead.”
Senegal are one of five African teams at the tournament in Russia but they are the only one coached by an African.
Cisse was reluctant to attribute the lack of African mentors to prejudice, instead focusing on football’s power to unite.
“I’m the only black coach at this World Cup, it’s true,” he said. “But really this debate disturbs me. I think football is a universal sport and the colour of your skin is of very little importance.”