|Duarte says the secret to his longevity at Burkina Faso is doing things 'the way he wants' [GETTY]
Paulo Duarte has lasted for four years as Burkina Faso coach, an eternity by African standards, and believes the keeping the directors out of team selection has been the key to his almost unprecedented longevity.
Since taking over in 2008, the Portuguese has led the Stallions to the last two African Nations Cups, including the current tournament in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, and at one stage, they reached 37th in the FIFA world rankings.
Burkina, who face neighbours Ivory Coast in their second Group B game on Thursday, had missed out on the previous two tournaments and Duarte said that the privilege of picking the team himself has been the key to their improvement.
"Before in Burkina, as in many African countries, it was the president of the federation and the minister of sports who picked the team," the former Uniao Leira defender and coach told news agency Reuters.
"I changed this mentality. One of the first things I did there was to say publicly and repeatedly, in everyone's face, three or four times, that I'm the one who picks the team, not the minister and not the (federation) president."
African football administrators are not known for tolerating such firmness but if anyone has the personality to stand up to pressure from above, it is the man nicknamed the African Mourinho.
"I do the work the way I want, not the way others want. "
- Paulo Duarte
"I do my work the way I want, not the way others want," added Duarte, who has an impressive array of young European-based players at his disposal.
When Duarte took over, he found no records of the team and could not even decipher which tactical system they used.
"There was no discipline, there was no organisation," he said.
"I took my ideas forward, my leadership, and fortunately we started to win.
"The people and the players started to realise that we were entering a new cycle, a new process, today there is a coach who makes the decision, where before there wasn't."
Like Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, Duarte often comes across as an angry character.
At one stage, he combined his Burkina role with coaching Le Mans but when the French club demanded that he work exclusively for them, he chose the Africans instead.
After they lost 2-1 to Angola in their Group B opener on Sunday, he lambasted his own defenders for their "schoolboy mistakes", his opponents for time-wasting tactics he described as "anti-football".
He is also prickly about suggestions that Burkina have broken rules on the naturalisation of players, such as Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue whose presence in the qualifiers prompted a protest from opponents Namibia.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled in Burkina's favour although the player has not been picked for the Nations Cup.
"It (naturalisation) is permitted for everyone: Portugal have four Brazilians, Italy have two Argentines, France do it, it's all allowed," he said.
He is not afraid to set ambitious targets for his side, describing qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as an "obligation" even though Burkina Faso have never played at the finals before.
"We've got a favourable draw, Gabon, Niger and Congo, and we got this draw because we have a good ranking," he said.
"I'd say that Burkina Faso have an obligation to qualify."