2 July 2012
Gordon Igesund was named the new coach of South Africa’s national football team, Bafana Bafana, in Johannesburg on Saturday. He has been handed a two-year contract.
“I feel very honoured and privileged to be in charge of an asset like the national football team,” Igesund said at the press conference at Safa House.
“All I can say to you all is that I’m going to do my very best to make us all proud.”
The contract comes with a mandate to achieve two things: to make at least the semi-finals of the 2013 African Cup of Nations, which South Africa will be hosting, and to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup. It won’t be easy, given Bafana’s poor record in big competitions in recent years.
Unrivalled PSL coaching record
Igesund owns a Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaching record that is unrivalled, having led four clubs to titles: Manning Rangers in the PSL’s inaugural season in 1996/97, Orlando Pirates in 2000/01, Santos in 2001/02 and Sundowns in 2006/07. Most recently he led unfancied Moroka Swallows to a runner-up finish in the past PSL season.
What that record shows is that Igesund is able to get results out of players at underdog teams, such as Rangers and Santos, and out of players at big name clubs, such as Pirates and Sundowns.
That augurs well for his tenure because, many agree, it is man management that will be needed to achieve better results, and that is one of the new Bafana coach’s strengths.
The right man for the job
Former Bafana Bafana player Clinton Larsen, who coaches Bloemfontein Celtic, won PSL titles under Igesund with Rangers and Pirates. He believes, despite the tough job Igesund has been given of uplifting a team that has severely underperformed, that his former boss is the right man for the job.
“If there’s anyone who knows how to turn teams around in a very short time, it is Gordon,” he told IOL’s Matshelane Mamabolo.
“He is amazing at raising players’ morale and confidence, and right now, we all can see that Bafana’s confidence is at an all-time low. He’s the ideal man to get them motivated.
‘He’ll have them delivering’
“Gordon knows how players think and is able to find out what makes them tick. He knows how to treat them as individuals and get them playing at their best. He’ll do that with Bafana and have them delivering.”
Commenting on the choice of Igesund over interim Bafana coach and former coach Pitso Mosimane’s assistant Steve Komphela, Safa President Kirsten Nematandani said: “It was not an easy decision as both coaches are well-equipped to take Bafana Bafana forward.
“At the end of the day, it was a unanimous decision and we think the final verdict was in the best interest of the nation.”
He also called on Bafana Bafana supporters to give Igesund time to make his mark and not judge him on forthcoming away friendlies against Brazil in September and against Poland in October.
‘The bigger picture’
“The bigger picture is the 2013 Afcon tournament and qualifying us for Brazil 2014 World Cup,” Nematandani said.
The search for a coach began with five men in the running. The others, apart from Igesund Komphela, and were SuperSport United’s Gavin Hunt, Neil Tovey of Thanda Royal Zulu and former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, who now coach the national under-23 team.
Igesund’s assistants have not yet been named and speculation is that Komphela will stay with Bafana in that role.
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