Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The boot is on the other foot: goalless Gordon finds himself in Pitso's shoes

Remember when: Gordon Igesund celebrating a goal, circa 1872

Suddenly Gordon Igesund finds himself in Pitso Mosimane’s shoes. And they’re not very comfortable. By Wednesday evening, he'll have his own footwear. Question is: will they be flip-flops or stillettos?

The awful goalless draw against Algeria after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Norway’s unwanted youngsters was “very Mosimane” but excusable. A pair of meaningless, friendly slippers.

Gordon reassured the nation: “We are improving. You haven’t seen my best side yet. We are hard to beat and we will score goals,” just a week before Saturday’s big kick-off at the rechristened National Stadium.

Then, like Pitso, Carlos Alberto Parreira and a cast of hundred haplesscoaches before him, Igesund was entirely incapable of raising the game for the opening clash against minnows Cape Verde.

Awful. Embarrassing. Toothless. Boring. And those were the polite verdicts. The government has apparently declared all goals in South Africa “national key points” until the AFCON final at Soccer City on February 10. But that's okay, none of us have seen one in nearly 300 minutes.

Ghana and that famous medic Dr Congo shared four goals between them on Sunday to lift a tournament which started with that record goal drought on Saturday - but that is not enough for soccer-mad fans in the host nation.

Forced to endure traffic jams, ticket scares and bus disappearances in the build-up, what did Gordon offer to console the fans after his side’s drab opening? “My players froze up. We can’t afford to play like that again. The nerves got to them and a lot of players were hiding.

“They are very disappointed but we win together and we lose together. With Angola and Morocco drawing 0-0 too, we are now all on an equal footing in Group A. Let’s see how we can rectify the situation.”

Very Pitso isn’t it? The initial knock-kneed approach has morphed in to a genuine mistrust of the media, and if really thinks those two goalless draws on Saturday are good for Bafana, he’s fooling himself.

The scenario is this: South Africa draw against Angola on Wednesday, Morocco will crush the vocal Verdians. Then we’ll draw against Morocco in the final game – remember Gordon’s words after Algeria “we are becoming difficult to beat” – but Angola will then polish off the volcanic islanders to qualify with Morocco.

And that will leave an unbeaten South Africa waving goodbye to another tournament despite their privileged position as hosts.

Nobody wants that to happen. Gordon least of all. Even Pitso, wiping the smile of his face somewhere in Mamelodi or Chloorkop, doesn’t want that to happen.

Gavin Hunt, the SuperSport United coach who won three successive PSL titles and was short-listed for the hottest seat in South Africa outside of Nkandla, doesn't either.

He appeared on our new show SportsTalk on www.702.co.za this week and told presenter Udo Carelse: "I feel sorry for Gordon. Some of his players look like they couldn't be bothered. Siphiwe Tshabalalala needs a long holiday on a Mauritian island. With a one-way ticket. The guy needs a break from football.

"And Thuso Phala is okay. But he's a fireman. He's always putting it out."

Now only victory against Angola tomorrow night offers Gordon the chance of redemption.

And the last flickering flame of hope lies in these words: “We have to move on. We can’t harp on about Saturday. Football is a funny game (many English coaches have resorted to that one over the years) once we score a few goals and get the country buzzing, I believe we can go all the way.”

Wednesday evening, Gordon gets the chance to remove Pitso’s shoes and wear his own. Whether they will come back to kick him up the bottom remains in doubt.

To hear podcasts of our new show go to: http://www.702.co.za/podcast/podcast_sportstalk.asp.

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