By Robson Sharuko
He is one of the world’s most controversial football coaches — was once banned for spitting at a referee, torched a fierce storm by claiming Nigeria’s Super Eagles use juju and continues to battle accusations he is a player agent.
But, despite carrying all this baggage of negativity, Adel Amrouche continues to get some good jobs, in the African game.
And, he is now plotting the downfall of the Warriors.
The 52-year-old Algerian gaffer is the man in charge of the Zebras of Botswana, who host the Warriors, in a decisive AFCON qualifier in Gaborone next month.
It’s not his first Nations Cup qualifier showdown with the Warriors.
He was in charge of Burundi, when the Swallows defeated the Warriors 2-1, in a 2013 AFCON qualifier in Bujumbura.
The Algerian coach, however, dropped a bombshell by announcing his resignation soon after that match.
“I’m afraid I have to resign, I can’t continue to train a team which can’t prepare for games properly,” he told the media after that victory.
“I think I have achieved my objective but I can’t go any further, we don’t get to play friendlies, we don’t have enough equipment and I can only get access to some player on match days.
“I must be the only manager who gets to try his player on the day of a major tournament. We’re tired, I’m personally very tired to work in these conditions.”
But, after playing a leading role in helping more than 20 players move from Burundi to foreign clubs, questions began emerging about his role as an agent, who used the national team, to boost his business interests.
He soon landed in Kenya, where he signed a contract to coach the Harambee Stars.
He played a role in helping in trying to help Kenyan forward, Raphael Mungai Kiongera, secure a move from Gor Mahia to German club Borussia Monchengladbach.
And, when he was also linked in the move by defender, David ‘“Cheche’’ Ochieng to Saudi Arabia top-flight side, Al Taawoun, accusations about his shadowy role, as a player agent, resurfaced in Kenya.
Especially, after he named both Kiongera and Ochieng, in his provisional squad to face Namibia in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
Amrouche, once again, refuted the accusations. “I work here for Kenya. If the national team is good, it’s good for everybody. If we go to Africa Nations Cup, Kenya goes to African Cup,’’ he told the Kenyan media.
“Sometimes, we have these problems and when a player comes and asks me whether he should play for a team, I tell them no, I come from far and I cannot be involved in (local) tribes.
“Don’t bring me problems with people. I have only my team and I saw ‘Cheche’ leave, since I cannot support them living this (poor) life (in the domestic league) and when he comes, ask him.
“I’m happy when they come back, they can buy houses for their families.
“God gave me this chance to help and I put 23 players out in Burundi and, when I do it for one player here, some journalists ask me whether I got something.
“For this, I’m angry since I’m here for good intentions and I love this country.’’
In July 2014, Amrouche was handed a one-year ban by the Confederation of African Football for spitting at the referee during a 2015 AFCON qualifier against the Comoros.
The CAF Disciplinary Board found him guilty of breaching Article 129 (c) of their rules and regulations, which stipulate that spitting at a match official should be punished by a 12-match ban.
His employers at the Kenyan Football Federation appealed against the one-year suspension and, after a review, his suspension was reduced to six matches.
However, before that review was done, the KFF authorities terminated his contract and appointed Bobby Williamson as his replacement.
Amourache contested the decision and FIFA ruled in his favour.
The matter spilled into the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the KFF were ordered to pay him about US$1 million as compensation.
FIFA warned the East African country they had to pay him or the country would face severe sanctions, including being suspended from international competitions.
Amrouche then secured a job, to coach the Libyan national team and, after helping them to a draw against South Africa in Durban, in a 2019 Nations Cup qualifier, he torched controversy by suggesting the other group’s members, Nigeria, used juju.
“Believe me, I would rather play Nigeria than Bafana, because I have experience playing against Nigeria and, for me, Bafana have fantastic players and it’s not easy playing South Africa,’’ he told the post-match media conference.
“For me, I’m ready for Nigeria. If they want to play the two games in Nigeria it’s ok. If the (Nigeria) believe in juju too much (I’m still prepared for them).’’
The comments sparked anger in Nigeria and, just a few days before the Super Eagles took on the Libyans, Amrouche quit his job
Sources told The Libyan Observer the coach left because he was unhappy he hadn’t been paid, for about six months, while a rift had also emerged, between him and some of his players, who were unhappy with his coaching methods.
Two years ago, he arrived in Botswana to take charge of the Zebras.
But the saga,related to his shadowy role as a player agent, has refused to fade away.
And ahead of the AFCON qualifier against the Warriors next month, the coach has, once again, been forced to deal with the same accusations which have been stalking him for years now.
He has already helped, at least, four Zebras to secure moves with foreign clubs.
“Those are baseless accusations and I am not an agent,’’ he told the Sunday Standard at the weekend.
“I use my connections from the people I know, to assist my players, so that they can play in top league internationally.
“I always tell my players to aim high and must aspire to play in Europe where there are professional leagues and better money.” The Herald