Cote D’Ivoire AFCON Coach: A Date With Destiny

By: Gyang Dakwo

Cote D’Ivoire interim coach Emerse Fae has joined an elite list of Africa Cup of Nations-winning managers just weeks after taking charge of a first senior match when emerger tops against Nigeria in the final in Abidjan.

It is an extraordinary achievement for the 40-year-old French-born former Ivorian international, who played for his country in the 2006 final albeit on the losing side.

He had been assistant to veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset over the last 18 months but was thrust into the top job when Gasset was sacked at the end of a disastrous group round at the tournament. The hosts barely scraped into the knockout stage as the last of the best four third-placed finishers.
They needed other results to go their way and it took an agonising three day wait between their last group game – a humiliating 4-0 loss to tiny Equatorial Guinea – and the end of the group games before they knew their fate.

By that time Gasset had been sent packing and Fae put in charge, despite the fact his only previous coaching experience was at youth level in France.

Fae made several key changes and the Ivorians showed impressive mental fortitude in overcoming holders Senegal in the last 16 and neighbours Mali in the quarter-final, coming from behind in both matches.

Their semi-final victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo continued the comeback.

Local press have dubbed Fae the “Special One”.

“No, no, no, that’s not true,” he replied on Saturday when asked about the tag first used for Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho. “It has been a collective to get us all here.”

However it seems he is the ‘Special One” as far as Ivorians are concerned because he has achieved folklore status in his county.