WHAT’S the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) without Claude LeRoy?
This is the question right now in Egypt considering that the Harry Potter lookalike Frenchman is conspicuous by his absence on the touchline at the ongoing continental championships.
The well-travelled LeRoy coached in unprecedented nine Afcon editions while in charge of six different national teams, also a record.
But he missed the ticket to Egypt after his side Togo finished bottom of their group during the qualifying campaign.
Known for his all-black attire on match days, competition in Egypt is missing arguably Africa’s most colourful and controversial character in the71-year-old tactician.
Not afraid to speak his mind, the Frenchman is a known critic of Caf and often fought his football federations bosses over the rights of national team players wherever he was in charge.
LeRoy was a keen spectator from the VIP box at the Ivory Coast versus Morocco fixture.
He is in Egypt as a consultant of French TV channel Canal+, but his presence at Al Salam Stadium had more to do with his protégé, Moroccan head coach Hervé Renard.who was his assistant during LeRoy’s short spell at Cambridge in 2004, a fourth-tier side in England.
LeRoy came to prominence on the continental stage with Cameroon in the 1980s and later enjoyed spells with Senegal, Ghana, Congo-Brazzaville and the DR Congo.
He guided Cameroon to a runners-up spot at the 1986 Afcon and later steered the Indomitable Lions to victory at the 1998 continental showpiece on his second spell in charge.
His trademark round spectacles reappeared at the 2013 Afcon hosted by South Africa where he was at the helm of the DR Congo, the West African side he also oversaw over two stints.
LeRoy’s achievements in Africa have clearly influenced the influx of French coaches in African national teams as seven Frenchmen accounted for the 13 European tacticians barking instructions at Egypt 2019.
Also missing in action in the latest Afcon edition are the likes of Patrice Carteron, the48-year-old Frenchman who steered Mali to a third place in South Africa six years ago.
Carteron is currently coaching Raja Casablanca in Morocco. German Winfried Schäfer is another notable absentee in Egypt.
The familiar faces at Egypt 2019 are Alain Giresse, the 66-year-old Frenchman currently in charge of Tunisia.
The Carthage Eagles became Giresse’s latest team following his appointment in December last year.
Also making appearance at yet another Afcon is Benin head tactician Michel Dussuyer.
The 60-year-old has endured an on-and-off relationship with Guinea, where he had three stints between 2002 and 2015, guiding them to the quarterfinals of the 2004 and 2015 Afcon.
Renard is the most accomplished of the lot in Egypt having guided Zambia to the 2012 triumph and replicated the feat with Ivory Coast in 2015.