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January 26, 2016 | Cup of Nations

2017 AFCON: Ghana opponents Mozambique appoint former Liverpool ace Abel Xavier as coach

Abel Xavier is now the coach of Mozambique
Abel Xavier is now the coach of Mozambique

Ghana's opponents on the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Mozambique have appointed Abel Xavier, the former Liverpool, Everton, LA Galaxy and Portugal defender, as the new coach ahead of March's clash with the Black Stars.

The 43-year-old Xavier, who as a player was synonymous with flamboyant, bleached blond hairstyles, was born in Mozambique before moving to Portugal as a child.

Xavier was sacked as gaffer of Portuguese minnows Desportivo das Ave, and now has the rather unenviable task of raising the African side up the FIFA rankings in his first international managerial job.

Currently lying in 108th in the world tables, just above the mighty Burundi and Mauritania, the defender replaces Croatian Boris Pusic as head honcho of the Mambas.

Xavier represented Portugal having lived there since his childhood, but his return to his native land will certainly make us tune into a few more Mozambique games at next year's African Cup of Nations.

"I have followed the Mozambican team for years," he said. "I am very proud to come back to my country."

His first match in charge of the side will be on 23 March when they travel to face the Black Stars in their Group H clash most likely to be played in Accra. 

Xavier will be tasked with guiding Mozambique into the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

They have not played in the tournament since 2010 and are last in Group H, having lost both of their first two qualifiers.

Xavier made 20 appearances for Portugal during his playing career, which at club level spanned from Italy and Holland before arriving in England.

Abel Xavier was appointed as the new manager of Mozambique on Monday, the country he was born inAbel Xavier was appointed as the new manager of Mozambique on Monday, the country he was born in

Abel Xavier was appointed as the new manager of Mozambique on Monday, the country he was born in

Xavier was born in Africa before moving to Portugal as a child, who he played for 20 times in his careerXavier was born in Africa before moving to Portugal as a child, who he played for 20 times in his career

Xavier was born in Africa before moving to Portugal as a child, who he played for 20 times in his career

Xavier (right), enjoyed an eventful playing career, including time at LA Galaxy with David BeckhamXavier (right), enjoyed an eventful playing career, including time at LA Galaxy with David Beckham

Xavier (right), enjoyed an eventful playing career, including time at LA Galaxy with David Beckham

Xavier played for Benfica from 1993-95, before a year in Italy with Bari and two seasons in Spain with Real Oviedo.

He had one year at PSV Eindhoven before Everton swooped in 1999 for a fee of £1.5million.

Xavier played 49 times for the Goodison Park outfit before crossing Stanley Park to sign for Liverpool in January 2002, for £800,000.

He is the latest player to have made the switch across Merseyside.

Xavier subsequently played for Galatasaray, Hannover and Middlesbrough before joining Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007.

He played alongside David Beckham in the United States before retiring in 2008 and managing in the lower leagues in Portugal.

Xavier (right) had one year at PSV Eindhoven before Everton swooped in 1999 for a fee of £1.5millionXavier (right) had one year at PSV Eindhoven before Everton swooped in 1999 for a fee of £1.5million

Xavier (right) had one year at PSV Eindhoven before Everton swooped in 1999 for a fee of £1.5million

Defender Xavier went across Stanley Park to sign for Liverpool in January 2002, for a fee of £800,000Defender Xavier went across Stanley Park to sign for Liverpool in January 2002, for a fee of £800,000

Defender Xavier went across Stanley Park to sign for Liverpool in January 2002, for a fee of £800,000

Xavier is remembered for his extravagant and flamboyant haircuts throughout his playing careerXavier is remembered for his extravagant and flamboyant haircuts throughout his playing career

Xavier also played for Middlesbrough during his time in EnglandXavier also played for Middlesbrough during his time in England

Xavier is remembered for his extravagant and flamboyant haircuts throughout his playing career

Xavier played alongside David Beckham at Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States before retiring in 2008Xavier played alongside David Beckham at Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States before retiring in 2008

Xavier played alongside David Beckham at Los Angeles Galaxy in the United States before retiring in 2008

Xavier served an 18-month suspension for doping in 2005 when he was playing for Middlesbrough, and since ending his playing days in 2008 he has endured a topsy-turvy coaching career.

His first job came at Portuguese top-division side Olhanense, where he lasted just three months, before spending a five-month stint at Farense in Portugal's second division.

Last July, he was handed a one-year contract with Aves - also in Portugal's second division - where he was coach until September.

Alberto Simango Junior, president of the Mozambican Football Federation (FMF) said he hoped Xavier could bring "good results" to his nation of birth and said the appointment showed the ambition of the national governing body.

However, the president refused to discuss the length or any other details of the contract.

For more Ghana football news visit www.ghanasoccernet.com

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