Equatorial Guinea coach first Nations Cup victim


JOHANNESBURG: Equatorial Guinea coach Esteban Becker has become the first casualty of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying after a 3-0 loss in Senegal at the weekend.

A national football federation spokesman in the small, oil-rich central African state confirmed Tuesday that the out-of-contract Argentine would not be offered a new one.

The 52-year-old made a sensational start as coach of the Equatoguineans, taking the 2015 Cup of Nations hosts to the semi-finals against all expectations.

Finishing fourth was particularly impressive as Becker got the job just a couple of weeks before the tournament having been in charge of the national women’s team.

But the South American has been unable to replicate that success, with the Group A loss in Dakar the latest of many setbacks for the “Nzalang Nacional” (National Thunder).

Local coach Casto Nopo will fill in for Becker until a permanent replacement is named.

Equatorial Guinea, ranked 29 in Africa and 109 in the world, host Sudan next March during the second series of Cup of Nations qualifiers.