19 June 2013
The South African Football Association (Safa) has moved to dampen speculation about the future of Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, with president Kirsten Nematandani saying Igesund’s contract runs until next year. Only then, Nematandani said on Tuesday, would the coach’s future come up for discussion.
The Safa president has in the past told the media about his admiration for Igesund, and reiterated these sentiments when the team arrived home on Monday from its World Cup qualifying assignments against the beat Central African Republic, which they won 3-0, and Ethiopia, which they lost 1-2.
The 2-1 defeat to Ethiopia effectively knocked Bafana Bafana out of contention for a place to Brazil 2014, although the team may be given a lifeline if Ethiopia is punished by Fifa for allegedly fielding an ineligible player against Botswana.
The loss to the Walia Antelopes led to speculation that Igesund’s contract would be reviewed and that he would meet his employers soon to discuss his future, especially since one of the requirements put to him when he took over from Pitso Mosimane was to qualify the team for the World Cup. At that time the team had played two qualifiers and bagged only two points.
However, Nematandani who was with the team on the two assignments, said Safa would not meet Igesund with regards to his contract because that item “is not on the agenda”.
“We are aware of the media reports doing rounds about Gordon’s future,” said Nematandani. “One thing must be made clear here, the coach’s future is not under discussion.
“He is the Bafana Bafana coach and we have a contract with Gordon until next year and I don’t know where the media is picking the story that we would meet the coach to talk about his contract. There is nothing like that.”
Bafana Bafana trail Ethiopia by five points in Group A of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers with one match at home to Botswana remaining.
The Safa president said it was important to stay focused on the challenges at hand, which include the match against Botswana.
“We still have that [Botswana] match to play and also the Cosafa Cup next month. Once we are done with that, we have to start looking at the CHAN [African Nations Championships], as well as the qualification for the 2015 Afcon,” Nematandani said.
He added that he was very impressed with the fighting spirit and commitment shown by the players despite some travel logistics nightmare in Cameroon.
“We have to commend Bafana Bafana for their fighting spirit against CAR and Ethiopia. If anything, our players can never be accused of not trying, especially against Ethiopia. They went down fighting and were just unfortunate on the day.
“We have to give credit to Gordon and his technical team for instilling that kind of fighting spirit.”
Nemtandani also said he was aware of reports that Ethiopia is facing Fifa sanctions after fielding a suspended player in their qualifier against Botswana. “In all fairness, this has nothing to do with us,” he said. “It is a matter between Botswana and Ethiopia, but we will wait and see.”
SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association