South Africa on the hunt for new Bafana coach

3 June 2014

The South African Football Association (Safa) announced on Monday that it would not renew the contract of Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.

“The national executive committee informed Gordon Igesund that his contract won’t be renewed when it expires on the 31st of August,” Safa CEO Danny Jordaan told a media conference at Safa headquarters in Johannesburg, adding that the process of finding a new coach “will start after this press conference”.

Bafana Bafana was the national team “and we must achieve international success,” Jordaan said. “We will speak to as many candidates as we can in trying to find a person who can rebuild this Bafana brand.”

Tough task

Less than a week after Igesund’s contract ends, South Africa face Sudan away from home in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, which will be a tough task for his replacement.

On Monday, Igesund reported back to Safa officials on his two years in charge of the South African national team, after which the officials met before announcing their decision. It did not come as a surprise, as speculation had been rife that Igesund would not be retained.

Leading candidate

The leading candidate to replace Igesund, according to rumours, is former Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Quieroz, who led Iran to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup finals. Under Quieroz, South Africa qualified for the 2002 Fifa World Cup, but the coach then stepped down after falling out with Safa.

Stephen Keshi, who led Nigeria to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations title and to Brazil 2014, is also said to be in the running.

Coincidentally, Iran and Nigeria clash on 16 June in their first matches in Group F at the World Cup.

Marks against Igesund

Not qualifying for Fifa’s biggest event was one of the marks that counted against Igesund’s name, with Safa having tasked him to qualify for the World Cup. They also said he should reach the semi-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Judging from the reaction from callers to radio stations, many feel Igesund was hard done by.

When he took over from Pitso Mosimane as South Africa’s coach, Bafana Bafana were already on the back foot in qualifying for the World Cup. They won three of their four qualifiers under him, but it was not enough. In the Africa Cup of Nations, Bafana made it to the quarterfinals, but were beaten by Mali in a penalty shootout.

Lack of club support

The lack of support from some clubs, which often withheld players, also affected Igesund’s ability to do his job. That lack of support was never clearer than on South Africa’s recent tour of Australasia, when a massive 13 players withdrew from the squad. Despite this, Igesund led his young team to a 1-1 draw with World Cup-bound Australia and a goalless draw with New Zealand.

Igesund was the 17th Bafana Bafana coach since South Africa was readmitted to international football in 1992 – a turnover rate that may have more than a little to do with the country’s slide down the international football rankings.