Igesund plays role of Santa
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
Watch Leonardo Bonucci's ridiculous dive against Palermo, for which he received a yellow card.
Ho, ho, ho! ’tis the season to be jolly.
These words are always associated with Father Christmas. Indeed, December is the season to be jolly, giving and be festive.
It is at this time of the year when most people take well-deserved holidays.
Most people also get their bonuses and rewards for good work during this time of the year.
So, it should have come as no surprise when South African national soccer coach, Gordon Igesund called up a number of players who have done well this season.
Top of the list surely were Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa and midfielder Ayanda Patosi of Belgian club Lokeren FC.
Igesund is so far living up to his promise that he would select players based on performance and current form.
Meyiwa is a perfect example for this.
Not so long ago, when Igesund was appointed, he sat down with The Buccaneers first-choice goal-minder Moneeb Josephs and convinced him to come out of his early self-induced “retirement” from international soccer.
True to his word, Igesund gave Josephs an opportunity to show what he can offer when he fielded him in the international friendly against Kenya in October.
However, since being given a run by coach Roger de Sa following an injury to Josephs, Meyiwa has more than taken the opportunity with both hands and is now preventing the 'No 1' from resuming his position, with his sterling performances at the club.
He even excelled in the pressure-cooker Soweto Derby last Saturday.
Positive reports have consistently come in from Belgium about Patosi’s performances.
The Bafana Bafana mentor has also has called back Tsepo Masilela, who has made a comeback to Kaizer Chiefs despite showing signs of not being entirely match-fit.
Other players who have consistently shown good form and the coach has shown confidence in, include Kaizer Chiefs duo Lehlohonolo Majoro and Benard Parker who are currently topping the Absa Premiership scoring charts.
Katlego Mphela, who came back with a bang following a lengthy lay-off due to injury when he scored the solitary goal in Mamelodi Sundowns’ game against Black Leopards; and Benni McCarthy who has come back from injury as well, have been included in Igesund’s list of additional players.
With only three friendly matches, against Malawi on Saturday (December 22), Norway and Algeria remaining before Bafana tackle the Cape Verde Island in their opening Africa Cup of Nations match at FNB Stadium on January 19; it is obvious that the final squad will be selected from this pool of players.
While the coach seems to have done a great job in rewarding good performance, a look at the pool of players, doesn’t inspire much confidence.
A look at the 24 players selected for the Malawi match - plus the 12 additional players - leaves one with only fear that it is going to be a struggle for Bafana Bafana to proceed beyond the first round of the tournament.
Out of the pool of 36 players, only 11 - Siyanda Xulu (FC Rostov, Russia), May Mahlangu (Helsinborg IF, Sweden), Patosi (Lokeren FC, Belgium), Tokelo Rantie (Malmo FC, Sweden), Darren Keet (KV Kortrijk FC, Sweden), Anele Ngcongca (Racing Genk FC, Belgium), Bongani Khumalo (Paok FC, Greece), Ricardo Nunes (MSK Ziina FC, Slovakia), Thulani Serero (Ajax Amsterdam, Holland), Kagiso Digkacoi (Crystal Palace, England) and Dean Furman (Oldham Athletic, England) play outside the country.
And you can see, except for Ajax Amsterdam’s Serero, none of them play for the so-called giants of international football.
While Igesund has played his hand well as Father Christmas in rewarding good work, this fact should be cause for concern.
However, there is nothing we can do. These are the best players we have and if it means taking knives to a gun fight, so be it.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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