Igesund: Survives or axed?

Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
The question on most football lovers’ lips is whether Gordon Igesund will go or survive SAFA’s notorious axe.

Since bombing out in the first round of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) last month, there has been speculation on Igesund’s future as Bafana Bafana mentor.

SAFA has not made things easier either by first saying his issue was to be dealt with at their Lekgotla that was to follow the tournament. It has now come and gone and we are now being told that Igesund’s fate will be dealt with on Thursday by the powerful International Affairs Committee, one of SAFA’s sub-committees.

Igesund has also gone underground since that defeat. Does he know something that some of us don’t?

The latest developments have once more sparked the debate on whether South Africa should get a local or foreign coach to lead Bafana Bafana.

While I am more inclined towards a foreign coach, I think our football needs more than a new coach to be fixed. It has proven in the past that even some of the best - such as Carlos Alberto Parreira, a man who had won the Soccer World Cup - could not do miracles to save South African soccer.

As a result, he shares the unfortunate history of being the first coach to lead a host nation that bombed out of the first round of the World Cup.

The only reason I would argue for a foreign coach is because none of our coaches are qualified enough at international level.

I mean, we haven’t even had our coaches appointed to, say, coach any European club or country.

I would argue for someone with experience at international level.

However, for our football to grow, there needs to be direction from SAFA.

There needs to be proper direction from SAFA from the development level.

Firstly, we need to accept some home truths such as that we do not have the right quality of players needed to be successful at international level. The notion that we are world-beaters, needs to be thrown out of the window immediately. Once this is done, we can then honestly and earnestly build from the bottom up.

It is such hard work that is needed for South Africa to realise its true potential. Rugby is doing it and cricket is doing it, thanks to proper structures: Why can’t football?

I might be getting ahead of myself on the coaching issue, seeing that the Igesund case has not yet been resolved.

As things stand, he has a contract that runs until June 2014.

This brings me to another point. It's all well and good that SAFA gave Igesund a contract that runs until the World Cup. This is almost standard procedure in many football-playing countries, coaches’ contracts run from World Cup to another.

But the difference is that most of the countries that enter into such contracts, always know that they would qualify for this big football event.

So it beats me how the wisecracks at the organisation tasked with governing the biggest sport in this country could not have inserted an insurance clause in Igesund’s contract that protects them and allows for a parting of ways, should the coach fail to take the country to the World Cup.

In today’s world, you just don’t sign open-ended contracts. Most, if not all, agreements are performance-driven.

What we are seeing now, says there was no such in the contract, meaning that SAFA is caught between a rock and a hard place. If they fire Igesund, they would have to pay him out the remainder of his contract or if they stay with him until June at least, they can’t implement any changes they would like to on their way forward.

Quite a sticky place to be in, but what’s new.

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.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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