Otto Pfister

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Otto Pfister
Personal information
Date of birth (1937-11-24) November 24, 1937 (age 81)
Place of birth Cologne, Germany
Playing position Striker
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1957–1958 SC Viktoria 04 Köln
1958–1959 VfL Köln 1899
1959–1960 FC Chiasso
1960–1961 FC Grenchen
1961–1963 FC Vaduz
1963–1966 FC St. Gallen
1966–1968 FC Nordstern Basel
1968–1969 FC Moutier
1969–1972 FC Chur 97
Teams managed
1961–1963 FC Vaduz
1963–1966 FC St. Gallen
1966–1968 FC Nordstern Basel
1968–1969 FC Moutier
1969–1972 FC Chur 97
1972–1976 Rwanda
1976–1978 Upper Volta
1979–1982 Senegal
1982–1985 Côte d'Ivoire
1985–1989 Zaire
1989–1995 Ghana
1995–1997 Bangladesh
1997 Saudi Arabia
1997–1998 Saudi Arabia (Olympic)
1998–1999 Saudi Arabia
1999–2002 Al-Zamalek
2002–2004 CS Sfaxien
2004–2005 Nejmeh SC
2005 El-Masry
2006 Togo
2006–2007 Al-Merrikh
2007–2009 Cameroon
2011–2012 Trinidad and Tobago
2014–2015 Al-Merrikh
2015 USM Alger

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Otto Pfister (born November 24, 1937 in Cologne) is a German football manager, and one of Germany's most successful coaching exports, voted Africa's Manager of the Year in 1992.[1] He last managed Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 club USM Alger.

Pfister has been to four African Cup of Nations competitions—with Upper Volta (now: Burkina Faso), Zaire, Cameroon, and Ghana—and has reached the African Cup of Nations final twice, with Cameroon and Ghana. Pfister has won the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Ghana. He has also won the U19 African Cup of Nations with Cote d'Ivoire and led Togo in the 2006 World Cup. Pfister also qualified for 1998 FIFA World Cup with Saudi Arabia. Pfister has won the League Title in two different Countries (Egypt and Lebanon). He has also won domestic cups in four different Countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Sudan).

Coaching career

Otto Pfister has been involved in Association football for almost 60 years, he began his coaching career in Switzerland as player-coach in 1961 at the age of just 23. Pfister's early coaching experience was gained with FC Vaduz, FC St. Gallen, FC Nordstern Basel, FC Moutier and finally FC Chur 97.[2] He has worked as Head Coach for 10 International football teams, eight from Africa and two from Asia. In June 1972, at the age of 34, Pfister retired from his playing days and left Switzerland for Africa, taking the reins as the Head Coach of Rwanda. Pfister would stay in Africa for 23 years until 1995 working as the Head Coach for five other African Nations. Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Zaire (now DR Congo) and Ghana. In 1995, Pfister worked inside the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as the Head Coach of Bangladesh National Team and also Saudi Arabia from 1997 - 1999. Pfister returned to club football over the following six years with Egyptian team Zamalek, Tunisian club CS Sfaxien, Lebanese club Nejmeh and Egyptian club Al-Masry. Pfister was selected as the head coach of Togo on February 18, 2006, after former coach Stephen Keshi was dismissed from the post despite having secured qualification for their first World Cup Finals.[3] Pfister himself resigned shortly before the team's first match in the tournament, after his players went on strike against the federation over a pay dispute,[4] but he was reappointed three days later after demands from the players.[5] Pfister was appointed Manager of Sudanese club Al-Merreikh on September 8, 2006 and would later leave this position on October 26, 2007. The following day Pfister would sign a contract as the Head Coach of Cameroon taking him through until 2010. As of March 24, 2011, Pfister was unveiled as head coach of Trinidad and Tobago.[6] In February of 2014, at his age 76, he made a return to the head coach of Al-Merreikh, a team he had previously guided to the final of the 2007 CAF Confederation Cup.[7]

Burkina Faso

Between 1976 and 1978, Pfister changed the face of football in Burkina Faso. They were known as the Upper Volta national football team until 1984, when Upper Volta became Burkina Faso. The establishment in Burkina welcomed the German coach and because of the natural interest in football, the Government’s commitment and Pfister's ability, Burkina Faso qualified for their first ever African Cup of Nations in 1978 in Ghana. It was the success with the Burkina team that opened the way for Pfister to traverse Africa, the Middle East, and Asia over the following years since his first landing Africa.

Cote d'Ivoire

In 1982, Pfister became Coach of the Cote d'Ivoire,(commonly known as Ivory Coast in English). He repaid his new employers’ confidence in him by taking the country’s youth team to the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship in Mexico. They would not qualify to the Quarter-finals, however, Pfister would win the U19 African Cup of Nations with Cote d'Ivoire in 1983.


Pfister took over as Head Coach of Congo DR national football team (formerly the Zaire national football team) in 1985, where he would spend four years helping to restore the 1974 African champions to their former glories. Pfister was responsible for unleashing a new generation of ‘Leopards’, including Eugene Kabongo, Gaston Mobati, Panguy Merikani and Mutumbile Santos, all of whom took part in the African Cup of Nations 1988.


Otto Pfister led Ghana to a famous win in the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship. The Championship was held in the cities of Florence, Montecatini Terme, Viareggio, Massa, Carrara, and Livorno in Italy between 16 August and 31 August 1991. Ghana finished second to Spain in their group and progressed to the Quarter-finals where they beat Brazil 2–1 with goals from Mohammed Gargo and Nii Lamptey. After a 0-0 draw with Qatar in the Semi-finals, Ghana won 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out, lining up a final against Spain. on August 31, 1991, Ghana beat Spain 1-0 in the World Cup final in Florence, Ghana's first title.

Ghana qualified for the 1992 African Cup of Nations after finishing top of their qualifying group. Ghana qualified to the Quarter-finals after two 1–0 victories over Egypt and Zambia in the first round of the final tournament. Ghana beat Congo national football team to take them through to the Semi-finals where they beat Nigeria, 2–1. On January 26, 1992 in Senegal, Ghana played Côte d'Ivoire in the final of the African Cup of Nations. After extra time the final score was 0–0 and the game entered penalties. After a marathon penalty shootout, the Côte d'Ivoire finally won 11–10 on penalties. The penalty shootout was significant in that it was the first in the final of a major international tournament that every player on the pitch took a penalty.

Saudi Arabia

Pfister became the Head Coach of Saudi Arabia in 1997 after previously working in the AFC from 1995-1997 with Bangladesh National Team. In 1997, Pfister successfully guided Saudi Arabia to the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France but was crudely released just before the tournament because he requested the Saudi Princes to interfere less in team affairs. After Saudi Arabia lost their opening two games and failed to progress, Carlos Alberto Parreira was fired and Pfister was reinstated as Head Coach on completion of the tournament. As World Cup Qualifiers, Saudi Arabia automatically qualified for the 1998 Arab Nations Cup. With the help of an impressive 8 goals in 4 games from Obeid Al-Dosari, Saudi Arabia were crowned champions after beating Qatar 3–1 in the final. Despite being the only team not to lose a game, Saudi Arabia also finished as runners-up in the 1998 Gulf Cup of Nations in Bahrain.


Otto Pfister was highly successful during his time at Al-Zamalek. During his time as Head Coach (1999–2002) Pfister won an impressive five trophies. On December 10, 2000, Al-Zamalek recorded a convincing 6–1 aggregate score in the second-leg final against Canon Yaoundé in the African Cup Winners' Cup (now the Confederations Cup). The first and last time this trophy would be won by the Egyptian club. Pfister led Zamalek for their worst defeat against rivals Al Ahly 6–1 on the 16th of May 2002, Al-Zamalek also reached the final of the CAF Super Cup, losing 2–0 to Accra Hearts of Oak SC.

Nejmeh SC

Pfister was appointed as Manager of Nejmeh SC in the Lebanon for the 2004-05 season. After 19 games, Nejmeh SC were joint top of the Lebanese Premier League 2004–05 with Al-Ansar Club. Both teams needed to win the final match, which incidentally was against each other. The final result was 2-2 and Pfister's Nejmeh SC were crowned champions as they had a highly superior goal difference. Pfister secured qualification to the 2005 AFC Cup for Nejmeh SC (which they would eventually finish as runners-up). Pfister also won the Lebanese Super Cup and Lebanese Elite Cup with Nejmeh SC during the 2004-05 season.


Otto Pfister was selected to lead the Togo National football team three Months before World Cup 2006 after Stephen Keshi was sacked. Prior to the World Cup, players went on strike because of unpaid bonuses. Faced with the rebellion over bonuses, Pfister walked out, saying he could take no more. Pfister was reinstated three days later after demands from players and FTF staff. Togo lost their opening game of the World Cup, despite having taken the lead against South Korea through a goal by Mohamed Kader. In the second half, Jean-Paul Abalo was sent off after 55 minutes, and goals from Lee Chun-Soo and Ahn Jung-Hwan sealed a 2–1 defeat for Togo. Togo's next opponents in Group G were Switzerland, with the match scheduled for the afternoon of 19 June. However, the Togo squad threatened to refuse to fulfil the fixture and take strike action against unpaid bonuses. FIFA negotiated with the squad on 17 June, persuading them to travel to Dortmund in time to fulfil the fixture; goals from Alexander Frei and Tranquillo Barnetta resulted in a 2–0 defeat. Togo's final group game against France ended in 2–0 defeat.


On 27 October 2007, Pfister was appointed the manager of Cameroon, succeeding 80 other candidates.[8] He coached Cameroon in the 2008 African Cup of Nations, held in Ghana. Two second half goals from Samuel Eto'o was not enough to win their opening game which finished 4–2 to Egypt. Cameroon picked themselves up four days later and beat Zambia convincingly 5–1. In their final group game Samuel Eto'o again scored twice as Les Lions Indomptables won 3–0. After finishing second to Egypt in the group stages, Cameroon progressed to the Quarter-finals where after a close encounter, they beat Tunisia 3–2. Stéphane Mbia scored early in extra time to take the Indomptable Lions through to the Semi-finals. Alain N'Kong scored a 72nd-minute winner for Cameroon in a 1–0 win over Ghana in the Semi-finals, taking Cameroon to their sixth final of the African Cup of Nations. On 10 February 2008, Cameroon took on defending champions Egypt in the Final in Accra. Egypt scored a 77th-minute goal through Mohamed Aboutrika which would be enough to win the match and be crowned the champions of the 2008 African Cup of Nations. Samuel Eto'o was the tournaments highest scorer with 5 goals. Pfister stepped down from his role on 26 May 2009.

USM Alger

In January 2015, Pfister was linked with Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 club USM Alger, and signed a contract with the club shortly after.[9][10] On May 18, Pfister was sacked as coach of USM Alger.[11]

Managerial statistics

As of 18 October 2010
Nat Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Rwanda Rwanda 1972 1976
Burkina Faso Upper Volta 1976 1978
Senegal Senegal 1979 1982
Ivory Coast Côte d'Ivoire 1982 1985
Democratic Republic of the Congo Zaire 1985 1989
Ghana Ghana 1989 1995
Bangladesh Bangladesh 1995 1997
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 1997 1999
Egypt Al-Zamalek 1999 2002 53 42 6 5 79.25
Tunisia CS Sfaxien 2002 2004 30 12 9 9 40.00
Lebanon Nejmeh SC 2004 2005 26 20 4 2 76.92
Egypt El-Masry 2005 2005 4 1 2 1 25.00
Togo Togo 2006 2006 5 1 0 4 20.00
Sudan Al-Merrikh 2006 2007 27 17 5 5 62.96
Cameroon Cameroon 2007 2009 15 10 1 4 66.67
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago 2011 2012 7 5 0 2 71.43
Total 160 101 28 31 63.13


Pfister gained his coaching certificates in Magglingen in the 1960s, and later studied further in Cologne. Pfister is a UEFA Pro License holder, has a Bundesliga license for professional football coaching and is an Instructor for FIFA and German Football Association professional football coaching courses.

In 2001, Pfister was awarded the Order of Merit of the Confederation of African Football as well as a German Football Federation Honors Award.

In Ghana the slang "Rules with an Iron-Pfister" is often used to refer to his coaching style.

During his time in Ghana, Pfister's fame transcended football. His unconventional style of wearing his trousers on the hip, rather than the waist, has become a fashion trend among the youth.

Commenting that Tony Yeboah's birthday can not be determined exactly, Ghana's then-manager Otto Pfister said: There's only one way to find out: saw his leg off and count the rings!

Teams as a player

Teams as a manager



  1. Interview mit Otto Pfister: „Mit Taktik befasse ich mich nicht“
  3. TOGO-COACH OTTO PFISTER: "Lege keinen großen Wert auf Disziplin"
  4. [1]
  5. [2]
  6. Otto Pfister Appointed Coach Of Trinidad & Tobago 24 March 2011.
  7. German Pfister returns to Merrikh Confederation of African Football. 24 February 2014.
  8. [3]
  9. HMF (January 29, 2015). "L'USM Alger en contact avancé avec Otto Pfister" (in French). DZfoot. Retrieved May 18, 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. AS (February 10, 2015). "USMA : Otto Pfister s'engage officiellement" (in French). Competition. Retrieved May 18, 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. HMF (May 18, 2015). "USM Alger : Otto Pfister limogé !" (in French). DZfoot. Retrieved May 18, 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links