Igesund job poisoned chalice

2012-07-02 22:06

Cape Town - So, the self-important suits at the South African Football Association have, ahem, meticulously and firmly laid down the ground rules for Gordon Igesund’s tenure as 17th coach of Bafana Bafana.

The very statistic given above should be enough to suggest that stability, patience and diligent digging of new foundations would be wholly in order for the new man with the poisoned chalice.

But no, with customary arrogance and sweeping, grandiose proclamation, the SAFA bosses have laid bare that Igesund must deliver semi-final status at least in the 2013 African Cup of Nations, plus qualification for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

It is just a little like Richard Pybus, the much-travelled cricket coach who recently quit the Cape Cobras and assumed Bangladesh’s reins, being instructed to propel the eternally labouring Tigers to the final of the 2015 World Cup in Australia and shift from, say, their current ninth to fourth or fifth – hey presto! -- in the Test rankings by 2014.

Only he probably wasn’t dished out such orders because the Bangladesh Cricket Board, with a bit of luck, would have married a pinch of realism with their advance wishes for Pybus’s era.

Of course such a comparison is dubious, but perhaps this isn’t the worst juncture to remind everyone, and not least the senior occupants of SAFA House, that in many respects our national soccer side are roughly equivalent to Bangladesh ... minnows on the global stage.

Sad, but inescapable.

The football-playing planet, of course, is significantly larger, so Bafana can at least protest that many nations lie below them. But at 68th on the current rankings, it must also be noted that a whole heap – including such “luminaries” as Panama, Armenia and Uzbekistan – also lie on superior rungs.

There is something insufferably blinkered and autocratic about SAFA so quickly cranking up the bar for Igesund, effectively presenting him with a stink-bomb for his first day at the office rather than a welcoming, cajoling bar of Swiss chocolate.

With upheaval, chaos and farce so often synonymous with Bafana head coaches, immediate, tournament-specific demands on the man smack of a clumsiness, haughtiness and lack of diplomacy that have been a hallmark of our administrators for more years than we care to imagination since the return from isolation.

Would it have been too much to ask of Igesund that he first set to work on halting what has been a disturbing fresh slide by Bafana since their creditable enough showing as host nation at the 2010 World Cup?

Surely you have to stop a rot before you can even begin to think of restoring past glories with the snap of two fingers?

Home advantage will count for something at the looming Afcon, so it is not entirely out of the question that Igesund will, indeed, somehow manage to guide Bafana to the last four ... though I, for one, will not be staking so much as my carport or letter box on it.

Getting to Brazil, however, is a bridge greatly further, and it is probably safe to assume that the more measured of Bafana’s long-suffering supporters -- given the already adverse qualification circumstances under which Igesund assumes his responsibility -- would settle instead for a more creeping movement, at least initially, back into the top 45 or 50 on the rankings.  

Slowly, slowly catchy monkey, and all that. Instead SAFA have basically given the new coach a net on the end of a stick and instructed him to bring the dastardly primate back by sunset, or else.

It is a sobering thought, after all, that South Africa are already playing catch-up in their preliminary qualifying group for Brazil 2014, lying third as they do in Group A beneath Ethiopia and Central African Republic in what may a little humiliatingly develop into a low-calibre group of death.

Even if they do end up topping this particular pile of mediocrity, they must then play off against one of the other nine African group winners to book their ticket to the golden sands of Brazil.

Considering that they are deemed only 14th best in Africa right now, making it through will amount to a great leap forward of really special magnitude.

A further reality check: Bafana ceded top African bragging rights not long after securing Afcon ’96 honours on home soil in early February of that year, since when they have never come seriously close to such premier continental real estate again – that’s 16 years of almost unrelenting sufferance.

Why suddenly are we going to march imperiously to a World Cup tournament? On what basis was the assumption made that Bafana are a whisker away from bossing or near-bossing the continent once more? Which players, exactly, are providing the fruit for this expected orchard of conquest?

SAFA’s this-is-what-you-have-to-do list to Gordon Igesund is crude, ill-conceived and strategically dumb.

It is dangerously close to simply setting him up to fail, and then haplessly putting out yet another appeal: “Right, who wants to be No 18 at the bridge of our ship of fools?”

Their policy is exceeded in short-sightedness only by expecting any other way from them.

Have they forgotten that baby steps tend to work? (Babies, bless them, generally end up walking and then running.)

Igesund has been prepped only to fall on his face, it seems.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • andrew.worrall.5 - 2012-07-02 22:20

    I agree with this article but surely he knew what the expectations were when he took the job. If he thought he couldn't meet them he should've declined the opportunity.

      christopher.columbus.3950178 - 2012-07-02 23:50 you in...if you dont you screwed...its about time..but Div was the exception! Because money talks and unfortunately Safa dont realise what they doing and who is sponsoring them but because its the right thing to do they do it...

      christopher.columbus.3950178 - 2012-07-02 23:51

      And then they don't...AAAAngaaaasss....

      thomas.cannon.712 - 2012-07-03 00:55

      christopher I don't think Jake White will agree with you!!

      corne.kok.14 - 2012-07-03 16:20

      Even though you present a good argument, I doubt anyone would not take up this opportunity. As a coach myself, the demands are high and sometimes ridiculously set. But, you have to look at it as a chance to prove yourself, which is why he has taken this chance. Even top coaches and managers have fallen and not delivered of what was sometimes expected. However, he has proven himself winning the league title with 4 different clubs. The shift from club to international football is big and only time will tell whether he can succeed and leave some legacy behind. I am confident he will do a great job, his CV and experience speaks for itself. SAFA is a association who will never succeed with the current hierarchy, they are not capable to run our football in SA. However, I doubt things will change. Let's rather get behind Igesund and wish him the bets in the new job

  • themba.maseko.568 - 2012-07-02 22:28

    All coaches had have conditions to their contracts, that is why Pitso was fired

      aleck.wellay - 2012-07-03 00:03

      wish u good luck Gordon Igesun. In u l trust.

      justice.ubuntu - 2012-07-03 07:23

      So what were the performance clauses in the contracts of previous Bafana coaches...? Could you detail them please...? Why now does Ingesund earn a performance clause that, apparently, his predecessors did not...?

      victor.freeman.39 - 2012-07-03 11:51

      Care to explain what Pitso's conditions were? He failed to qualify for AFCON 2012 and was NOT fired.

      Tito - 2012-07-03 12:09

      It's amazing this newly found high expectations. They didn't want Gordon in the job all these years, and now that they were forced to put him in, all of a sudden let's raise the bar to such heights that he has slim or no chance of realising those goals. SAFA once again showing their true colours.

      jose.d.santos.9041 - 2012-09-07 09:27

      pitso was their for how long?? at 1million a month and did nothing.. GI is getting half and he has a quarter of the time to do it in..

  • bokang.motshabinaledimillioner - 2012-07-02 22:50

    No need to defend him rob.

  • leko.dada1 - 2012-07-02 23:10

    Lets hope for the best from Igesund .OBVIOUS at some point His gonna fail then SAFA have to do justice and give Shakes as Head coach,Steve as assistant with Tovey,Khumalo,Shoes,Masinga,Fish and Rhuu a 14year task to work with Bafana on permanent basis (on condition that should they fail,they will be banned for life in Bafana Bafana) .

      Blackmista White Whitemista Black - 2012-07-02 23:54

      its easy to be a SAFA representative, because we are all SOCCER experts..Its a poison chalice..simple.. SAFA nge SAFA..busy with NYANGAs and not football.. our new coach needed to settle in and do his job..not have some half wits telling him what to do..tired of all you useless experts.. seriously!! let the guy do his job, he is the best despite all you other favourites without as much credentials.

      victor.freeman.39 - 2012-07-03 11:53

      So your favourites get a 14 year contract and Gordon a 2 year contract to fix Pitso's mess. Then we wonder why Bafana continually fail.

  • frans.mosia - 2012-07-02 23:51

    It is obvious that in South Africa soccer is the only sport where a national team coach will not stay in charge until the end of the contract, let alone renewal of the contract. This is not good for the organisation such as SAFA and our national team, this symbolises disaster in SA's soccer.

      victor.freeman.39 - 2012-07-03 11:55

      You need a foundation to build a house. Until SUFFER actually implement a development plan, instead of talking about it, we'll be talking about coach number 18 next Feb.

  • riaan.louw.18488 - 2012-07-03 00:05

    Against the odds, Igesund for some reason always do well and prove everyone wrong. This time it might be more difficult as he is immediately thrown into the 'deep end of the pool'. I think SAFA's demands are to unrealistic for now and the following should be achieved. 1 - Found a proper squad of emerging players and young talent and work with this group for a few years. 2 - Qualify for AFCON 3 - Qualify for the World CUP. How well we do at these tournaments are irrelevant. We need to take baby steps. Once we have become a stronger force in African football, we can look at a better coach (preferably International) to take us further. Igesunds needs at least 4 years, and I think he is still the best man for the job for now...

      frans.mosia - 2012-07-03 13:32

      yes riaan but we have automatically qualified for AFCON 2013 as host nation.

  • makhosonke.maseko.5 - 2012-07-03 00:25

    I think we should forget major tournaments for now

      Tarone.Net - 2012-07-03 06:32

      and play only friendlies!!!!!!! Lolest Why play if not planning to win.

      bertrand.mauvis - 2012-07-03 08:37

      tarone.... because we are not winning that way...

  • colin.rowe.146 - 2012-07-03 00:51

    I have always maintained......that it's the South African players how are not up to scratch. 17th coach in 20 years is a story on it's own, poor management and administration always shows itself on the field. As a national emblem representing South be honest \shocking\.

      atholl.canterbury - 2012-07-03 08:13

      The exploits of ANY National Team in ANY sport is only dependent on one thing : . The strength of their premier provincial teams' ...... administration-[off the field] ...... skill of the players-[on the field.] Euro 2012 Final Spain v Italy .... could have been ==== Barcelona/Real Madrid -v- Juventus/AC Milan === The National Coach must have 'overseeing powers' into player development at Premier league level. ... in the same way that : The National President must have 'overseeing powers' into administration at Premier league level. Until there is confidence in the premier league :: in an equal contest of: === Chiefs/Pirates/Swallows -v- Man United/Barcelona/Juventus === then the expectations of the National Coach are wishful thinking.

      victor.freeman.39 - 2012-07-03 11:57

      Spot on Atholl. You are setting the bar a bit tooooooo high though. ====Chiefs/Pirates/Swallows v Al Ahly/Esperance/TP Mazembe first.

  • mokoetle - 2012-07-03 01:19

    The task of turning around Bafana's performance to achieve Semifinals in A 2012, and qualifies for Brazil 2014, is NOT the responsibility of Gordon alone. It is in part the responsibility of SAFA, the League's team owners, Gordon and his assistant & most importantly the selected players themselves. Each & every one of these entities much bear contractual responsibility to making the MAGIC happen! They ALL have a role to play in ensuring good consequences for in the coming months. Each MUST have clearly defined KPI's allocated so that performance can be transparently monitored and managed. Clear consequences MUST be prescribed right now in EACH entity's performance contract in case they fail to deliver on their commitment, not just for Gordon. Gordon himself, MUST also speak in terms of WE most of the time, not I! Yes Gordon is the captain of the ship, however as in successfully sailing stormy seas, there needs to be corporation amongst all involved in steering the BAFANA ship in the right direction. This task is way bigger than Gordon alone or any one man for that matter. Provided ALL the entities execute THEIR PART with vigor and excellence, 2 years is sufficient to achieve the specified goals. The nation at large is behind the transformation we're about to experience. I as a fan like many others am ready to attend many local Bafana matches going forward. Media should also help by giving the team and its management mostly positive support and constructive criticism.

      Peter - 2012-07-03 10:27

      Well said Mokoetle.

  • donovan.hendricks.7 - 2012-07-03 05:24

    Before making demands safa,pay the damn sangoma first!!Lol

  • will.bains.50 - 2012-07-03 05:28

    Rob you clearly have no faith in Gordon's coaching skills. With the righ team he can go far.

  • Muffin_man_can - 2012-07-03 05:36

    How about including players of other races into the team? There are many talented white, indian and coloured players in this country not getting a chance to display their skills.

  • ooJama - 2012-07-03 05:41

    No alarm, please!\r\nGI's performance assessment meetings will be inclusive of his comments, complaints, commendations and contribution accounts.\r\n\r\nThese targets are attainable.\r\nHe may just need to demand his choice of support people to surround him.\r\nBack-stabbing and sabotage is a common thing in SA.

  • victor.windsor - 2012-07-03 05:48

    Stp blaming the coaches when it is the ill disiplined players who are to blame !!!!!! Just look at the track record of how many coaches they have been through, hell they can't all be bad ??????

      Peter - 2012-07-03 10:31

      Agree with you - but is easier to chase the coach, than the CEO. I am just happy that they dumped Pitso, and never hung onto him for the sake of having a black coach. I am saying this as Robert Marawa said that he was never selected before because he was white (unofficial and off the record, as told to him by a reliable source). Re: Metro FM, +- 4 months ago.

  • warren.carne.9 - 2012-07-03 05:51

    Excellent article,well put, Gordons on a hiding to nothing,SA need to stop thinking in the past,they are minnows in the scheme of African soccer.

  • packard.matt - 2012-07-03 06:19

    Granted, the man accepted the role but who wouldnt say yes to an offer to coach your country? These demands are not only absurd but they border on disrespectful. Gordon has proven a capable tactician and man manager in the past but one can only work with what you are given. He has inherited a side that has been mismanaged for the best part of two decades and is expected to turn it around in 18 sorry but no one can do that. So sad that they finally hire the best home grown manager available and handcuff him straight away.

  • humphrey.s.mbothwe - 2012-07-03 06:49

    Igesund must please do us a favour by getting rid of Mphela, Modise, and Tshabalala (these players were unfairly favoured by Pitso hence lacked tactics, teamwork and had poor performance). Our goalie Khune must warm the bench a bit. Players like Moeneeb Joseph, Daine Klate, Siyabonga Nomvete, Bennie McCarthy and Edward Manqele deserve a call up and starting line up in preparation and playing for next years Afcon. Please coach change is needed in our squad if we want to take our football forward. I trust that you will choose players that deserve to be there without fear or favour.

      humphrey.s.mbothwe - 2012-07-03 07:49

      Hey man Brazilian Ronaldo was overweight when he last played in the World Cup but he delivered very well. McCarthy might be overweight a bit but he can still deliver those dangerous passes and scoring goals. There is no doubt that there's no striker in SA who can match up with his performance and experience. His problems with Bafana-Bafana in the past was due to Pitso's hostile treatment of certain players.

  • humphrey.s.mbothwe - 2012-07-03 06:50

    Igesund must please do us a favour by getting rid of Mphela, Modise, and Tshabalala (these players were unfairly favoured by Pitso hence lacked tactics, teamwork and had poor performance). Our goalie Khune must warm the bench a bit. Players like Moeneeb Joseph, Daine Klate, Siyabonga Nomvete, Bennie McCarthy and Edward Manqele deserve a call up and starting line up in preparation and playing for next years Afcon. Please coach change is needed in our squad if we want to take our football forward. I trust that you will choose players that deserve to be there without fear or favour.

  • rivalani.mabasa - 2012-07-03 07:02

    These Safa bosses want to rise upon Igesund whereas they were fooled by Pareirra in the sight of da whole world! Their stupid demands on Gordon are a sign of poor leadership. But im not surprise because you cant take a man who has never been a teacher and make him a school principal, what result do you anticipate?

  • Ian - 2012-07-03 07:05

    Well said sir. This is what happens when "The Mafia Five" have so much conflict of interest..........

  • johan.r.erasmus - 2012-07-03 07:06

    Het this article might seem rather harsh for Gordon Igesund to achieve, but he cannot do worse than qualify for the world cup and then choke as our cricketers have done for many years at majot tournaments. Good luck Mr. Igesund as I do beleive you should been offered the job before. And the same to Gary Kirsten and AB and Heynecke Meyer and his captain and the same to all out national sports coaches and leaders. With Olympics around the corner, let us understand we are still proud of all our sport starts.

  • mxeki.maduvula - 2012-07-03 07:17

    Gordon is undoubtedly the best coach in SA and he needs space so that he can perform. Safa needs to stay away from the technical team and stop giving them stupid mandates.

  • luke.smit1 - 2012-07-03 07:18

    Brilliantly written and right on the money!

  • Malavi10 - 2012-07-03 07:34

    What if Gordon market himself like that to SAFA during his interview. Rob stick on white rugby, football does not need your stupid racist articles!

  • clive.little.96 - 2012-07-03 07:37

    I s this game in Gauteng again and was the same treatment given to all the other coaches that coached Bafana. I don't think so But you shown them Gordon

  • kalai.naicker - 2012-07-03 07:40

    i loved this article

      marumobongani - 2012-07-03 08:22

      for me this guy is having a soft spot for gordon of which is wrong the man should know right from the begining he is there to improve the results not patiently wait for good results to come his way like pitso did business is business gordon knows it better thats why he's where he is today because he's just good at it

  • Shilly Maelane - 2012-07-03 07:57

    Rob - you deserve a bells!!! LMAO - funny-but-sadly-true!!!

  • Mthenjwa - 2012-07-03 08:00

    The solution to the sport problem in south africa is to go to University of Pretoria take all their sport management team and make the to run the sport in S.A coz for me they are the only gud ppl at doing it result show that

  • marumobongani - 2012-07-03 08:10

    if you make good use of given resources you'll be successful given the belief of your formulars and philosophies with this man ive seen him winning trophies less ordinary teams think what he could do with the national team

  • sekalf.nroc - 2012-07-03 08:16

    SAFA is governed by complete fools - as long they can not provide the talents one needs to achieve before mentioned goals they should be more humble (realistic) with their demands.

  • Claude - 2012-07-03 08:16

    Its time SAFA realised that the current pool of South African player have not got what it takes to form a winning team. There are too many things wrong in this sport that need to be fixed and this from the highest level down to grass roots. Gordon Ingesund is said to be a bit of a miricle worker but if SARU had sufficient brain cells between them they would have started with a tight but realistic goal - not a pipe dream!

  • dino.naidoo.5 - 2012-07-03 08:30

    Gordon is going to throw alot of players out,who take playing for SA for granted. He is a no nonse coach, thats why he is successful. Players are going to say that Gordon is treating them unfairly when he kicks them out.

  • daniel.machet - 2012-07-03 08:44

    Couldn't agree more - I think that Gordon has been coerced onto SAFA as the popular (all be it the only sensible) choice, and they are doing everything in their power to make him fail

  • daniel.machet - 2012-07-03 08:46

    I just wish there was an equal clause that when Gordon meets the expectations, he can fire the SAFA board and pick a new one

  • kirk.bloomer - 2012-07-03 08:57

    Our league is in the top 10 in the world in terms of revenue and no team in Africa has more money spent on it than ours. A national shame that we're 68th in the world. Perreira was a massive waste, given the amount of money he cost they should've demanded a WC semi final spot from him, it was ridiculous. Gordon is the best man for the job, has been for about the last 10 years. But we should demand higher standards. Reaching the semi's at home is not an unreasonable expectation, and I'm pretty confident Gord will turn it around quick. Let's hope the donkeys, sorry, players we have take to him quickly. Good luck...

  • Ian - 2012-07-03 10:07

    You win world cups for your country you get fired, you dont, you get fired too, cant win with the clowns that know f all about any sport

  • Peter - 2012-07-03 10:25

    I think Gordon is above all this nonsense and knows exactly what he needs to do. I do not think there is enough time to prepare the team the way he wants to. Afcon maybe, but Brazil - that is another story. SAFA need to shut up and leave him to deliver the results. I do trust that he will at least be fully familiar with all the rules of the competitions and that we never have to be humiliated as a Nation due to doffness. Oh yes - please Gordon, dump Khune from the team - I have still not fogiven him for that stupid injury display. Khune displayed bad sportmanship of the worst kind. No place for that in a National team.

  • Retlaw - 2012-07-03 11:34

    It makes no difference who is appointed! If SAFA don't start concentrating on football instead of their own pockets first we will never get anywhere! There is no commitment from the top!

  • Chris - 2012-07-03 11:59

    Not even Jose Mourinho could take Bafana Bafana to those heights...I have never supported Bafana Bafana because of Safa's incompetence and it is not their fault,its the like of Kaizer Motaung and Irvin Khoza fault's.I am against club owners being on Safa's board cause they only thinking about the interest of their clubs and not the country as a whole.I will support Gordon and not Bafana Bafana

  • kiren.pillay - 2012-07-03 13:07

    The reason they fire coaches is scapegoating. They are trying to divert attention from the facts that they are incompetent.

  • thamifraser - 2012-07-03 14:13

    I completely agree with you Mark Gleeson. SAFA have given Gordon the most stringent mandate to take Bafana to at least the semi-final of the AFCON 2013, and to qualify for FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. A very tall order with very little time in which to do it. But I trust Gordon can achieve it, as long as he gets all the support the mandate needs from all stake holders and role players. The players, the clubs, club coaches, the PSL, SAFA, and South African supporters. Let's make this our national project, all of us. Let's display the necessary maturity to realise that this not just about Gordon Igesund and the players failing or succeeding, it's all about us giving our full support for a national project. Our national teams are national assets, they belong to all of us. So they should be managed on our behalf and in the best interest of our country.

  • Steve - 2012-07-03 20:09

    The author mentions a 'creditable' result in the 2010 World Cup ??? Has any home nation ever done worse in any World Cup ???? In History ???? I don't think so .......................

  • neo.mogatusi - 2012-07-04 08:37

    i a gree wholly...the to-do list is arrogant!we should destroy and rebuild, of course not taking eyes from the prize!! remember when Ted Dumitru was hauled in the last minutes?we came back with no point and no goal after hoping for so much..that's futbol!Gordon shud be given tym like any other

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