Johannesburg - Despite Gordon Igesund falling short of his semi-final mandate,
1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winner Andre Arendse believes the 56-year-old
remains the best man to lead Bafana Bafana.
According to the football411.com website, South Africa saw their AFCON 2013 adventure come to an end at the
quarter-final stage after going down on penalties to Mali, with some
expecting SAFA to axe the coach after having initially set him a target
of a last-four finish.
Arendse, though, believes that would have been a mistake, telling Football411:
"Some people suggested that being on home soil Bafana should have won
the tournament, but I believe that was completely unrealistic.
"South African football has been in steady decline since 1996,
but Bafana's display at AFCON 2013 was an absolute improvement and step
in the right direction."
Having won a PSL title under Igesund, Arendse is not surprised
the former Santos coach has breathed new life into the national set-up
after a mere seven months at the helm.
"I see much more fighting spirit, team cohesion and confidence
among the players. Gordon has brought back a winning mentality," noted
the current Bidvest Wits assistant coach.
While the former goalkeeper - capped 67 times for Bafana -
regards Itumeleng Khune as one of Africa's premier shot-stoppers,
Bafana's defensive fragility has him concerned.
"Khune was indeed a standout, but largely because we saw him
making saves way outside his 18-yard area to cover for the back four's
mistakes," he added.
"Bafana fell short in central defence and were at times exposed.
There was a lack of cohesion between Bongani Khumalo and Siyabonga
Sangweni - for me that combination just didn't work."
Since crashing out to Mali in the quarters, Khumalo's leadership
credentials have been called into question. Arendse, however, was quick
to jump to his former team-mate's defence.
"The criticism is grossly unfair. He always gives maximum effort,
wears his heart on his sleeve and is a real team player," he said.
"While he was at times a little reserved, we must not forget he
is a young captain. I have no doubt he will grow in stature and that his
leadership qualities will skyrocket," he concluded.