Mark Gleeson

Stick to your strengths!

2012-09-03 09:51
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
One of Gordon Igesund’s strengths when he took over at Moroka Swallows was his intimate knowledge of players.

Brought in to rescue the Birds, who had just two points from an entire half season campaign, Igesund’s first task was to draft in players he knew would help him transform the team. He knew which positions needed fixing and he knew which players were available and could help him, and where to get them.

Igesund got his way as desperate chairperson Leon Prins found the money for seven new players and so began work on a miraculous recovery that culminated in the runners-up berth last season … and the coach’s elevation to the Bafana Bafana job.

It is baffling therefore that Igesund sought last week to name - in his first ever national team selection - several players he had never laid eyes on before.

He gave brief explanations of the alleged qualities of uncapped Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Kgosi Ntlhe; told how he had spoken to their coaches and watched them on DVD.

But it is still bewildering how players with such marginal claims to an international career were picked in the first place … and for a trip to Brazil nogal.

I accept Igesund’s point that these are talents that must be looked at, but surely in the month that follows the trip to Sao Paulo, and the friendly against Mozambique in Nelspruit next Tuesday, he could go over to England and Holland and watch the trio in club action first?

To make such a bizarre experiment for his first match, when there are so many players in the Premier Soccer League of a similar, probably better quality, is concerning.

In the case of Mokotjo, Igesund made the added point that if the utility midfield-cum-make shift fullback was good enough for Feyenoord he must be good enough for Bafana, perhaps ignorant of the fact Mokotjo has not played this season and on the same day he was picked for Bafana Bafana, he was not even in the match day squad for a Europa League game his club were competing in.

So much for the assertion that only form players will be chosen for the team.

It is hard to work out what Igesund was thinking when picking players he has never even seen play before. Is he really convinced they are part of a future Bafana Bafana or is he trying to be as different as he possibly can be from his processor?

Surely if you are off to play Brazil you pick players you know and try to develop a best possible plan of action with a 'horses for courses' policy?

This is what Igesund has been master of in the past, equally adept at taking a physical side like Manning Rangers to championship honours, as he was in winning the league with much better technically astute players at Mamelodi Sundowns.

Why not stick with what he is good at? That’s why he was appointed Bafana coach in the first place.

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

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