Tunisians need a little patience

October 31, 2008

One cannot fault Tunisian clubs for seeking perfection but you’d think a little more patience is needed if they are ever going to achieve their dream of continental dominance.

Take the case of Etoile Sahel. They have just fired their Swiss coach Michel Decastel for “indifferent results”.

Indifferent by their definition, is second place in the league and qualification for the final of the African Confederation Cup, the continent’s equivalent of the UEFA Cup.

Decastel took over in June. He has since taken Etoile through a tough group to the final of the Confederation Cup, where they come up against compatriots Club Africain over two legs next month.

In the league, Etoile are second and unbeaten! They have played six games, winning three but it is the three draws in the other encounters that have irritated the management and led to the firing.

Such is the intensity of the rivalry between Etoile, who are based in the coastal city of Sousse, and Esperance, from the capital Tunis, that a gap of three points between the two is too much for the club to stomach.

The two have still to meet in the campaign, their first clash of the season set for Dec. 21. Last year Etoile won the African Champions League, reaching a peak they had spent decades seeking to scale.

Six months later the architect of that success, Frenchman Bertrand Marchand, was shown the door after Etoile stumbled at the end of the season and ceded their league title in a dramatic finish to Club Africain.

Coaches quickly learn that in north Africa there is little margin for error.

Mark Gleeson covers African football for Reuters

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