In 2008,during the AFC Challenge Cup in Hyderabad,Marcos Falopa came up with an interesting observation when he was asked why Latin American football coaches have failed to make a global impact unlike their European counterparts. We couldnt market ourselves properly, said the Brazilian,who was in charge of the Myanmar national team in that tournament.
He was making a general observation,but Falopa could have been talking about himself. Falopa started his career as Brazils junior assistant coach in the early 70s,assisting in the management of a team that had Pele,Jairzinho,Rivelino and Tostao.
It may have been his thirst for new experiences that may have seen him work up a diverse resume,but for someone who started his career with the all-conquering Brazilians,finishing it in the footballing hinterland of India (as coach of East India) would not have been something he had envisaged. So,are there fewer South American coaches at the top level than there ought to be?
At the international level,there are representatives from the region that have had great success managing clubs and countries. Chiles Marcelo Bielsa and Manuel Pellegrini and Brazils World Cup winner Luiz Felipe Scolari come to mind. Even for these coaches,the path has not been easy.
Scolari had managed for 26 years and already won a World Cup before he was appointed manager at his first big European club (Chelsea) in 2008. Recognition in Europe came for Pellegrini came via appointment at Villareal 17 years after he got into coaching.
Apart from the lack of marketability in an increasingly Euro-centric footballing world,perhaps South American coaches suffer in an oblique way from the reputation the players from the region enjoy.
Brazil and Argentina are seen as hotbeds of talent and flair,of the kind that requires little coaching. Maybe the Latin American countries are seen primarily as exporters of players and not coaches known for their tactical nous.
(Shamik is a principal correspondent based in Kolkata)
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