Seedorf faces moment of truth with toiling Cameroon
Cairo: His brilliance as a player was undisputed but Clarence Seedorf's transition into management has come with a steep learning curve. Unable to replicate his on-pitch achievements in the dugout, Saturday's Africa Cup of Nations showdown with Nigeria represents a defining moment for the Cameroon boss.
With a haul of four Champions League wins, five national titles and a host of individuals awards, the former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder's career was one to envy. But two successive failures with Milan and Chinese club Shenzhen, and a relegation with Deportivo La Coruna have clouded his reputation as a coach.
The former Dutch star, now 43, succeeded underperforming Belgian Hugo Broos last year and has won three, drawn four and lost once in competition since taking charge of the five-time African champions.
Part of his legacy is at stake in Egypt as coach of the title-holders, and Seedorf will be judged by what happens here with anything less than a quarter-finals place almost certainly set to trigger his post-tournament dismissal.
Since his appointment alongside former Ajax and Netherlands team-mate Patrick Kluivert, Seedorf has found it difficult to rouse the Indomitable Lions.
His record in qualifying was tarnished by an embarrassing 1-1 draw with the Comoros and a goalless stalemate against Malawi, while repeat failures to score against Ghana and Benin at these finals have again raised questions over his suitability as coach.
"As a midfielder it's a joy to be coached by him," Hearts midfielder Arnaud Djoum told AFP. "He's very attached to details. He also has a lot of stories. When he wants to give an example he always tells one. We listen to him closely because we know about his career. He's trying to bring his experience."
But inconsistent displays and his minimalist style are fuelling plenty of debate in Cameroon. "He's taking a while to enter the hearts of Cameroonians who would like to see more sparkle to their game," said local journalist Leger Tientcheu.
"We have the impression that Cameroon doesn't have a particular way of playing and that they play according to the opponents. The Seedorf touch remains to be seen."