The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast has been full of surprises and drama, both on and off the pitch. As the tournament enters the knockout stage, six coaches have already lost their jobs due to poor performance or controversy. Here is a summary of how each of them met their fate:
1. Adel Amrouche (Tanzania): He was suspended by the Tanzania Football Federation after receiving an eight-game ban and a fine from CAF for accusing Morocco of corruption. He made the remarks after Tanzania’s 3–0 defeat to Morocco in their opening game.
Amrouche, who has Belgian nationality, has coached in several African and Asian countries, including Burundi, Kenya, Libya, Botswana and Yemen.
He had led Tanzania to their second ever AFCON qualification, but could not avoid a group stage exit.
2. Djamel Belmadi (Algeria): He resigned after Algeria’s shocking defeat to Mauritania, which eliminated the defending champions from the competition.
Belmadi, who was born in France and played for the Algerian national team, had led Algeria to a historic 20-game unbeaten run and the 2019 AFCON title, but could not replicate the success in 2023¹. He had also coached in Qatar, where he won several trophies with Lekhwiya and Al-Duhail.
3. Tom Saintfiet (The Gambia): He quit after The Gambia failed to advance from the group stage, despite reaching the quarter-finals in the previous edition.
Saintfiet, who is from Belgium, has coached in various countries, including Finland, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi and Togo. He had guided The Gambia to their first ever AFCON qualification, but could not cope with the expectations and pressure.
4. Chris Hughton (Ghana): He was sacked by the Ghana Football Association after the Black Stars collected only two points from three games and exited the tournament.
Hughton, who is from England and represented the Republic of Ireland as a player, had taken over Ghana in October 2022, but could not improve their form or morale.
He had previously managed in the Premier League with Newcastle, Norwich and Brighton, and also worked as an assistant for France and PSG.
5. Jean Louis Gasset (Ivory Coast): He was fired by the host nation after a humiliating 4–0 loss to Equatorial Guinea, which put their qualification in jeopardy.
Gasset, who is from France, had replaced Patrice Beaumelle in November 2022, but could not inspire the Elephants to perform in front of their home fans.
He had also been an assistant to Laurent Blanc at Bordeaux, France and PSG, winning several domestic titles.
6. Jalel Kadri (Tunisia): He announced his departure after Tunisia drew 0–0 with South Africa, which confirmed their elimination from the group stage.
Kadri, who is from Tunisia, had taken charge of Tunisia in December 2022, but could not deliver the results expected from one of the tournament favorites.
He had also coached in Saudi Arabia and Libya, and was an assistant to Mondher Kebaier during the 2021 AFCON and the 2022 World Cup.
The six coaches who have left their jobs during the AFCON 2023 tournament have shown how demanding and unpredictable the competition can be.
With the stakes getting higher and the margins getting thinner, more coaches may face the same fate before the final on February 11.