Congo have confirmed the appointment of Barthelemy Ngatsono as their new national team head coach ahead of next month’s friendly against Senegal.
The friendly encounter against Africa’s best ranked nation will serve as a test for the coach, who may take on the position on a long-term basis.
The Congo Football Federation (Fecofoot) announced the news this week ahead of the January 8 friendly international against the Teranga Lions in Brazzaville.
Senegal have decided to hold their pre-Africa Cup of Nations training camp in the Congolese capital in order to prepare for the AFCON in Gabon, which begins on January 14.
Congo failed to qualify for the 2017 Nations Cup, leading to the sacking of previous head coach Pierre Lechantre in November.
In addition to the AFCON failure, the Frenchman was removed from his post as the Diables Rogue began their 2018 World Cup qualifying group stage in terrible fashion, losing their opening two matches.
The 66-year-old Frenchman becomes the fourth coach of an African national team to be fired since the World Cup qualifying campaign began in October, after the coaches of Algeria, Gabon and Libya were also relieved of their duties.
Ngatsono captained the national team when he was a player, and he now returns to the national setup in charge of the team.
He formerly coached the Congo A team, guiding them through the African Nations Championship qualifiers, and he has now been given a chance to prove himself at the highest level.
Ngatsono’s experience pales in comparison to former coach Lechantre, who won the 2000 Nations Cup with Cameroon, and has also been in charge of the Qatar and Mali national teams during his career.
Failure to reach the Nations Cup has been a massive disappointment for the team currently ranked 17th on the continent, and 70th overall. The poor run of results in recent months led to a decline in the FIFA rankings, down to their current position from eighth on the continent in the November release of the rankings (55th overall).