Obvious pick for Bafana coach
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Now that the Bafana Bafana job chase is just down to two men, it is time to look ahead to a new era for the national team.
Coming up in just six months is the country’s hosting of the African Nations Cup and rarely has a host nation made such a dramatic change in coaching staff so close to kick-off (excluding Equatorial Guinea change coach two weeks before the latest edition earlier this year!).
But after the poor form and poisonous atmosphere hanging over the team in the wake of last year’s qualification debacle, there really was no choice. The win last Friday against Gabon avoided matching the worst-ever run for Bafana Bafana some 15 years ago.
Ironically that poor stretch preceded a rather heroic performance at the 1998 African Nations Cup finals in Burkina Faso, where Bafana Bafana were unexpected runners-up, so there is the possibility some light might yet appear at the end of this recent somber period for the team.
Succeeding at the Nations Cup is imperative for the team and very important at a crucial post-World Cup juncture for South African football - on so many fronts.
To lift the profile of the domestic game, to improve Bafana Bafana’s ranking, to inject a positive fix into a product that has much potential but wallowing a little in its isolation and to deliver to the country some good news amid a plethora of doom and gloom.
This task is soon to be handed to either Gordon Igesund or Steve Komphela. SAFA have announced they will choose between the two by the end of the month.
It is puzzling that Gavin Hunt did not make the final list. His record on the pitch in recent years cannot be touched and his prowess as a coach who can adapt to situations and think on his feet is unmatched.
Perhaps his plain-speaking and ironic mannerism did not sit well with SAFA, or his frequent remonstrations of frustration when he sits on the bench. But Hunt is not yet 50 and must surely have a future chance to do the Bafana job.
Igesund’s record makes him now the obvious choice. It was amusing to read a football writer suggesting this week that what might count against Igesund is his regular job hopping. It was delivered without any irony given Komphela’s past tenure at Dynamos, Maritzburg United, Platinum Stars, the Under-23 side and Free State Stars (twice) - all inside the last decade.
During that time he steered Rangers to a cup final and has had a top five league finishes twice.
It should be a prerequisite that some club success is imperative for any Bafana coach. Even Joel Santana had won five Rio de Janeiro State titles before he got the job.
There are plenty of matches to prepare over the next six months and hopefully a new positive mood. Our team has promise but we also want success.Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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