Mark Gleeson

Igesund flavour of the moment

2012-07-17 09:59
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Gordon Igesund is in the midst of a glorious honeymoon.

All the pundits are circling him like love struck bridegrooms, praising his every move since he was handed the Bafana Bafana job and the smartly attired coach has reacted in kind, making all the right noises and moves since his elevated into the toughest job in the land.

So far it has only been is all applause for him and Igesund has proven himself again an astute observer of the local football scene, as befits a man who has survived for over three decades.

His navigation of this rickety supertanker called Bafana Bafana has been spot on, even though it is still more than a month before his first game in charge. That’s when the icebergs start appearing!

But, or course, it will not always be this way. Indeed, it might never again be this way. Ultimately this is a results-driven business and when Bafana Bafana are not producing the results, the mumbling and grumbling begin.

He might feel now like a man with thousands of friends. When times are tough though, he’ll count those loyal to him on one hand.

That is the nature of coaching the national team. It is an institution like no other, one which seemingly entitles every citizen an opinion, whether accurate or not.

That is the beauty of sports and the great game of football, that it can attract a wide range of opinion and such passion and devotion. The flip side to that is the ugly and fickle nature of so-called fans and the derision and deceit that comes when the job is not going well.

Fans want the team to win. But strangely in South Africa, when the team is winning, they want the side to win with style. Ultimately you can never satisfy everybody.

All those luvvies now writing how wonderful Igesund is and what sound decisions he has made to date (primarily viz his coaching staff) will be quick to turn. That you can guarantee.

The best time to be the Bafana Bafana coach is before the first game when the expectations are positive and the critics have holstered their pistols.

Igesund has been talking a lot about playing with “African flair” and not being too defensive but has to be careful he does not put himself into a corner before he even starts. 

This famous “African flair” never got Bafana Bafana anywhere before. The only successful side the country ever produced (the winners of the Nations Cup in 1996) had four defenders, two defensive midfielders and used the fullbacks to overlap and create chances, on top of some individual talent in the midfield.

The intensity of modern international football does not allow for going out and looking to profit from what comes naturally. That rarely works, never mind how talented the individual players might be. It has to be well planned, well drilled and well-orchestrated. This is Bafana Bafana’s bête noire - an inability to execute a cohesive plan. It has been all too reliant on the hope there will be one piece of magic from a player turn things around, but success in this fashion can be counted on one hand.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

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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