So it has taken the Soccer World Cup in Brazil to open Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund’s eyes.
After following the exciting tournament - like everybody else – the mentor, whose contract peters out at the end of July and is not going to be renewed, made a startling revelation - or was it an admission.
“Based on what I have seen in my time in charge of Bafana, if I’m honest, we weren’t ready for this World Cup,” opined the wise one.
So one wonders on what premise did he accept the high-paying job that is a sure pressure cooker.
For the record, Igesund was signed up by the South African Football Association (SAFA) on two mandates: To reach at least the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosted here last year and to qualify the national team for the World Cup.
It now belongs to the echelons of history that he failed on both mandates.
But surely, he must have
promised SAFA that he would qualify the team for the World Cup and do well at
the tournament for them to give him the job?
So now if he says the team was not ready for the tournament, why did he take the job in the first place?
It also raises the question on whether did he take the job under false pretence?
But this is now neither here nor there as his tenure is now water under the bridge, proving once more that success at club level, does not necessarily guarantee that a coach will be successful at national level, which is yet, another lesson for South Africans.
His statement though is full of truth. Anyone following the world sporting spectacle would agree that our beloved Bafana Bafana is nowhere near the standard that has been displayed at the World Cup. In fact, the gap is so huge that it’s scary. They would have been at the deep end of the sea had they qualified.
This should surely put SAFA between a rock and a hard place. Where do they start to fix the mess?
Do they follow the advice that has been offered several times that they must dismantle Bafana Bafana and start from scratch with junior teams and build them up into world-beaters or do they continue having Bafana Bafana taking part in international tournaments with embarrassing results?
As things stand, SAFA is on a lookout for a coach whose first mandate would be to qualify Bafana Bafana for next year’s AFCON taking place in Morocco. The qualifiers start with back-to-back matches in September, which would be about a month after the incumbent’s appointment.
The SA Under-20 under the tutelage of Shakes Mashaba – arguably the most successful local coach at international level – have qualified for the African Under-20 Championships where a top three finish would guarantee them a spot at next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Newly-appointed Under-17 coach Molefi Ntseki embarks on a mission to qualify his charges for the African Youth Championships. His first challenge is Tanzania whom they face next week Friday.
So this means currently SAFA are continuing with what in Marketing parlance is known as the “shot-gun” approach. But will it work.
While Igesund’s admission might be a bit disappointing and a tad too late, SAFA can take some advice from him when he said: “I think it comes down to planning, having a vision, having continuity and continually looking for ways to improve.”
This is what SAFA needs to do if they have any intentions to take our football to a better level.
S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading
sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of
the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is
currently City Press Sports Editor.
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