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A brief and interesting history of the Seychelles National Team

The Seychelles are a small group of islands off the coast of East Africa that is a popular holiday destination, mainly for newlyweds and snorkelers. This tiny nation isn't known for its football yet, but is trying hard to make a name for itself through sheer determination and meticulous focus on its grassroots coaching system. I thought I'd post a brief insight into it's history, link some articles and show you what this nation is trying to do, and who knows, it may pay off one day when we see some of these lads' children playing in the World Cup.
They play their home games at their 10,000 seater stadium Stade Linite, which is based just outside the capital Victoria. Their top scorer is Phillip Zialor with 11 goals.
The start:
Not much is known about the history of the Seychelles pre the 1990's. Their first match was against the Indian Ocean powerhouses Reunion in 1974 which ended in a 2-0 defeat. They participated in the Indian Ocean Island games in 1979, finishing runner up to (who seemed to be their kryptonite at the time) Reuinion, losing 2-1 to the host nation, and also recorded their record win, 9-0 against the Maldives, in the same year. They went out in the group stages in 1985 and came in 3rd place in 1990, beating Comoros 3-1 in the consolation playoff.
The earliest known coach Englishman Adrian Fisher who first introduced rules to the game to the island. He was the first man to introduce 90 minute games to the people of Seychelles (before he arrived they played 60 minute games). He is seen as the key reason as to why football is so popular on the islands today.
The next known coach and first native coach was Seycehllios manager Ulric Mathiot, who was in charge in 1991. He is a highly respected coach in the Seychelles and currently works as a technical director for the National team. He's also taken charge briefly in 2008, and in 2014-15 where he lead the Seychelles into the Indian Ocean Island Games, where they went out in the group stage. You can read an interview he did here. Ulrich is the go to guy when the Seychelles are in trouble, which is why he's overseeing training of the next generation of coaches on the island, I mean he has to retire at some point, right?
The next known manager is Helmut Kosmehl, who, for the majoirty of his sporting career was a handball player. He lead the team into fourth place in the Indian Island Ocean Games and then was seemingly sacked. He was last seen in South Africa, being appointed director of the South African club AmaZulu FC in 2008.
They then went five years before appointing their next coach Vojo Gardasevic in 1998. This Yugoslavian came with good pedigree. He managed Iraq in 1981. He made his name with Gor Mahia in Kenya's domestic league, leading them to a title win, which got him a gig with the national side. He had a mixed spell where after a run of five straight losses, got the sack after the Kenyan FA went behind his back to appoint a new coach whilst Vojo was managing an official match with Kenya against Guinea. He managed the Pirates for 3 years, coming third in the Indian Ocean Island Games and lead them into their first World Cup campaign, getting a draw with Eritrea in the process. He loved the country so much that he managed two domestic sides, La Passe from 2005-2006, and Anse Reunion from 2006-2012, winning the league twice (once with each team) in that period.
Frenchman Domonique Barthenay was next on the scene and he lasted 6 months. The only thing I can find about him is this match report where his team beat Eritrea 1-0; "I can only say that the officials were very bad." being Eritrea coach Tekie Abrha's take on the game. He left to take over French side Sedan.
Then came Michael Nees, a German coach. He coached the team from 2002 to 2004 and apparently coached them again in 2010 according to this interview. "Six years after leaving Seychelles in a controversial manner and being at odds with the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF), Mr Nees said he has buried the hatchet and is thrilled to be back. “What happened then is history. I live in the present and hope for a better future,” he said. “Not everything you plan works out the way you want. And it is not necessarily worse. It would have been ironic for me to come and work here and still carry ill-feelings." He came in full of positivity and it's good to see that that never changed. Mr. Nees corrently works as a director for the Kosovo national team.
Congolese man Raoul Shungu was then drafted in, and his reign was poor, winning only 3 games in 13 matches. His reign lead to discussions that the young Seychellios coaches managing in the domestic league should get the chance to manage the national team, such was the poor performances and seemingly lack of commitment from the foreign managers.
However, they were deemed not ready yet so yet another foreign coach joined, Dutchamn Jan Mak. He had two spells with the team, one in 2008 and one in 2013-14, where he noticed a significant change of the quality of the football between his two spells. He also said that they will never be the top team in Africa which I bet didn't persuade the board not to sack him after a string of poor results.
After Mathiot's short reign, it was the turn of Swede Richard Holmlund. There's not a lot of information about him or his reign, other than he also managed the Seychelles U20 team at some point. He sadly died in a car crash near Orebo, Sweden in 2011.
The Seychelles FA then spotted former Manchester City player Andy Morrison on the island soaking the rays, and offered him the job. Only that it wasn't actually Andy Morrison, but Andrew Amers-Morrison, whose past experience was founding a soccer community youth club in 2005. He was sacked before managing one game because he was an "imposter". Here is a video of his Samba Street Soccer School.
It seems as if they gave up on hiring foreign managers after that as they appointed promising young Seychellios manager Ralph Jean-Louis shortly after, who was appointed on the back of a successful stint at St Michel Utd, winning the title. His main aim was to make the nation proud by reaching the final of the Indian Ocean Island Games in 2011. He lead the team out of the group as winners by drawing 0-0 with Comoros, beating Mauritius 2-1 and walloping the Maldives 5-1. They then played against their bogey team Reuinion in the semi final, beating them 2-1 in extra time. He had achieved what he had set out to do, and had to face Mauritius, a team he beat in the groups, in the final. The game ended 1-1 after normal time and the tie could not be settled after extra time. A nervy penalty shooutout ensued and it was the Pirates who won 4-3, making this the first and only success of the Seychelles National Team. He resigned shortly after to take over St. Michel Utd.
Mak and Mathiot had short spells with the team again but quickly left after the Seychelles could not defend their crown in the Indian Ocean Island Games, going out in the group stages. Another interim coach came in, Madagascan manager Bruno Saindini who took charge against Ethiopia, drawing 1-1. Jean-Louis returned to the team shortly after.
Jean-Louis is the current manager and has been so since 2015. He's one of the many African managers making a name for himself on the internatinal stage, like Florent Ibenge of DR Congo and Alliou Cisse of Senegal. The Seychelles are out of the race to enter the 2018 World Cup, but there is no doubt they will try again for the 2022 World Cup, and who knows? Jean-Louis is a very passionate and part of a new breed of coach nurtured by Mathiot who may just have what it takes to upset the apple cart a bit. You can read another interview of his here.
and after all that, if you still want to know more about this fascinating nation's footballign history, you can just read this.
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