Igesund: I am still coach

2013-09-09 00:00

BAFANA Bafana have failed to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil despite a resounding 4-1 thrashing of Botswana in Saturday’s final Group A qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

It was a day of many emotions as news filtered through the stadium that the Central African Republic (CAR) had taken the lead against eventual group winners Ethiopia, a result that would have seen Bafana progress on the road to Brazil with a victory.

At that stage, and with Bafana 2-0 up at half time thanks to goals from Kermit Erasmus and man of the match Dean Furman, the atmosphere in the stadium was one of optimism.

But despite two more second half goals for Gordon Igesund’s men through Bernard Parker’s free kick and then penalty, Bafana were devastated as it became common knowledge that Ethiopia had overturned their deficit to win 2-1 and top the group.

Botswana did get back into the match at 2-1 through a Jerome Ramatlhakwane header, but it was one of the only threatening attacks that the visitors could create on an afternoon when Bafana showed what they are capable of.

When attacking midfielder Thulani Serero was marked as “absent” on the team sheet after he was expected to start, it was clear that there had been some trouble in the camp. But it didn’t hinder Bafana’s will to win, and with Botswana sitting unfathomably deep in the first 20 minutes, Furman and Kagisho Dikgacoi were able to control the match in central midfield and the power was never relinquished.

South Africa were precise, patient and tactically disciplined. When the ball was lost, it was quickly retrieved and there was a clear willingness to make the passes in the final third count as selfless play from all of the attackers resulted in what is possibly the best team performance of the Igesund era.

With the coach having failed in his mandate to reach the semi-finals of Afcon 2013 (Bafana were eliminated in the quarters) and qualify for Brazil, Igesund’s future is uncertain.

“I am still the coach of the national team. I have a contract until 2014 and I intend to stay here,” Igesund said after the match on Saturday night “… right now I am the coach and that is simple.”

It would be a tough call should Igesund be given the sack. He won three of Bafana’s last four World Cup qualifiers after Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela had contributed a draw each against Ethiopia and Botswana. More than that, Igesund has brought an element of pride back to the national jersey and he has a very clear plan to develop the youth structures in South African football through functioning national U17, U20 and U23 teams — something that is desperately needed.

“South African football over the past eight to 10 years has always looked for a quick fix and there has been no consistency or continuity,” said Igesund.

“Over the last year if you really sit down and analyse, there have been a lot of good things happening. We have identified the problems and this is a work in progress.”

Bafana will now turn their attention to tomorrow night’s friendly against Zimbabwe at Orlando Stadium. Igesund will be without his five Orlando Pirates players, who once again turn their attention to the CAF Champions League.

“It is a friendly and another opportunity to look at some new players,” the coach confirmed, adding that Belgium-based goalkeeper Darren Keet would play the match.



Ethiopia 6 4 1 1 8 6 2 13

SA 6 3 2 1 12 5 7 11

Botswana 6 2 1 3 8 10 -2 7

CAR 6 1 0 5 5 12 -7 3

Saturday’s results: SA 4 - 1 Botswana. CAR 1 - 2 Ethiopia

• Ethiopia advance to a home and away play-off for a spot in the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

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