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Football: Trabelsi out and more coaching casualties loom


Tunisian Sami Trabelsi was the first coaching casualty of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa and more will surely follow.

He quit after a first round exit and others in danger of the axe include Frenchmen Didier Six of Togo and Sabri Lamouchi of Ivory Coast, whose teams were eliminated at the quarter-finals stage.

Former Aston Villa wide man Six far exceeded expectations by taking the Sparrow Hawks to the last eight at the expense of Mahgreb duo Tunisia and Algeria.

But his efforts did not win any praise from Tottenham Hotspur striker and talismanic Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor, who has a huge influence over the national team.

"The coach was not a help. I was on the pitch so I could not do both jobs (coaching and playing," he told French radio station RFI after Togo suffered an extra-time defeat by Burkina Faso in the quarter-finals.

"I tried to do my best, but it is true that he did not help us," was the scathing criticism levelled at Six by the 2008 African Footballer of the Year in the aftermath of the last-eight exit.

When then-coach Stephen Keshi clashed with Adebayor during the Cup of Nations in Egypt seven years ago, the Nigerian was dumped and missed out on the 2006 World Cup after successfully guiding Togo through a tough qualifying campaign.

"I took the country to a place (quarter-finals) where they have never been before," said Six, referring to the qualification of the Togolese after six first round exits.

While Ivory Coast stars have publicly backed Lamouchi, the coaches who failed to land the title in the previous four Africa Cup tournaments were all sacked by the Elephants.

Frenchman Henri Michel went after a 2006 final shoot-out loss to hosts Egypt and compatriot Gerard Gili suffered a similar fate after a semi-final drubbing from the Pharaohs two years later.

Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic was booted out following a shock last-eight loss to Algeria in 2010 and local Francois Zahoui went having seen his team lose on penalties to Zambia in the final last year.

It was hard on Zahoui, whose side did not lose a game nor concede a goal in 570 minutes of Africa Cup action, and the sacking demonstrated the title-or-bust attitude of Ivorian football officials.

Perhaps coaching rookie Lamouchi can be an exception to the rule, but the tame last-eight surrender to Nigeria of Didier Drogba and a host of other stars cannot help the case of the Lyon-born handler.

Halilhodzic appears safe despite a dismal showing by Algeria, who collected only one point from a possible nine after entering the tournament among the teams considered potential champions.

"There will be World Cup qualifiers to play soon after the Cup of Nations and we do not intend to dispense with his services," Algerian football chief Mohamed Raouraoua told a pre-Africa Cup media conference.

Reports from Tunis say former Tunisia midfielder Nabil Maaloul, who coached Esperance to the 2011 CAF Champions League crown, and other ex-internationals Khaled Ben Yahia and Maher Kenzari are front-runners to succeed Trabelsi.