Durban — The World Cup is set to take centre stage as teams from around the globe touch down in Qatar with the hopes and dreams of their respective nations.
The five nations tasked with unifying Africa under one purpose at the global showpiece are Afcon champions Senegal and Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana.
For the first time on the World Cup stage all the African teams will be led by coaches from their respective countries.
Here, IOL Sports football writer Smiso Msomi looks at the five coaches leading the African charge in Qatar.
Cameroon — Rigobert Song
The former Indomitable Lion made his name in the junior ranks of the national team before amassing 137 senior caps that spanned over four World Cups.
Rigobert Song was 17 when he played at his first World Cup in the USnited States in 1994 and participated in three additional editions in 1998, 2002 and 2010. He is among a prestigious group of Cameroonians, which also features Jacques Songo'o and Samuel Eto'o, who have graced the game’s flagship event on four occasions.
Since then, he has turned to management and will lead a high-quality Cameroon side to his first World Cup as a coach.
Senegal — Aliou Cisse
The 2002 captain of that famous Lions of Teranga team that shocked the world in their first-ever World Cup, will return to the global stage for the third time. It will be Cisse’s second as a manager.
Cisse is part of a new breed of former national team players turned international coaches who have been entrusted with leading their countries to glory.
He was the first Senegal captain to lead his team to the Africa Cup of Nations final in 2002, and the first Senegal manager to win the tournament in 2022. The sky is the limit for Cisse and his charges.
Morocco — Walid Regragui
The 47-year-old coach spent a huge chunk of his playing career in the French and Spanish top flights from the late 1990s into the 2000s, before turning to management.
His first major role as a coach only came in 2012 as assistant coach to Rachid Taoussi for Morocco, but will now lead a “Golden Generation” to what is expected to be a record-breaking run at the World Cup.
Ghana — Otto Addo
Although born in Hamburg, Addo turned down an opportunity to represent Germany in the late 1990s for an opportunity to turn out for the Black Stars.
Having been in the camps of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke in various technical posts, Addo joined Ghana in February last year as an assistant coach. Following the departure of Milovan Rajevac, he will now lead the team in Qatar.
Tunisia — Jalal Kadri
Kadri’s first involvement with the Carthage Eagles came at youth level when he was coach of the Under-20s in 2007.
Following stints at various clubs across Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, he was recalled in June 2021 to assist then head coach Mondher Kebaier.
When Kebaier contracted Covid-19, he took charge of the team at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations and was promoted to the top job earlier this year.