|Keep your hair on! With Gordon|
Igesund after the 2-0 defeat against
Norway in Cape Town which forced
me to shave my head
It was always a matter of WHEN not IF. Ever since that appalling display at CHAN, when Gordon Igesund failed to push Bafana Bafana beyond the group stages in January, the writing has been on the wall.
And as I said at the time here http://neal-collins.blogspot.com/2014/01/oh-my-gord-is-this-way-ahead-for-bafana.html, Carlos Queiroz – backed by a local technical director and possibly Roger de Sa – is the obvious choice to replace a man who spectacularly failed on ALL his mandates.
With the World Cup in Brazil about to take place without us (qualification was one of Gordon’s MUST DOs) the damage done during his two years at the helm will continue to be felt for some time.
When Igesund took the job, he promised me he would build relationships with PSL and foreign coaches, that he would groom players through frequent Bafana youth and U21 games, that he would produce a style of play all South Africans could relate to.
Instead, as we crashed out in the AFCON quarter-finals and failed to win a World Cup group even after Ethiopia were docked three points, Gordon did what he did as a club manager, winning a record four titles with four different clubs.
He played the old faithfuls, stuck with his favourites, relied on certain agents and contacts for information. While he patiently went for the infamous “Cup of coffee” with the internationally retired Steven Pienaar at Everton, he fell out publicly with Pienaar’s successor Thulani Serero amid a title-winning season at Ajax Amsterdam.
Though that spat was patched up, there were other behind-the-scenes disappointments, arguments, inexplicable selections. For fear of legal action I cannot talk about the specifics of some of those. I would question why Buhle Makhwanazi of AmaTuks had to beg to get a game while Thabo Nthethe found it impossible to be dropped as he moved to Mamelodi Sundowns and became the face of Mr Price Sport.
|Cup knockout: Gordon and the infamous cup of coffee|
I would ask what happened to Keagan Dolly, the talented Ajax Cape Town youngster who was picked for a 30 second appearance in Morocco and then disappeared off the radar. I’d love to know what happened between Gordon and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, I’m fascinated by Matthew Pattison’s surprise appearance at CHAN and the constant shuffling of the side amid reports of huge bonuses on offer.
But now we can put those questions behind us. Gordon is gone when his contract expires in August. There will be no more Bafana games under his watch. Yes, he did his best. Nobody is questioning that. He could not legislate for his assistant Thomas Madigage’s tragic death early in his reign or Bernard Parker’s amazing own goal in Ethiopia.
But he had plenty of luck and failed to capitalise on it, with his reliance on men for whom the Bafana jersey had become a habit rather than a privilege.
At AFCON, a side better trained for penalty shoot-outs would have pushed Bafana to the semi-finals, in World Cup qualifying, the Central African Republic were forced to play on neutral ground and Ethiopia blundered over suspensions, at CHAN we had a plethora of Parker penalties.
But none of it mattered. Apart from the friendly win over Spain, nothing of note was achieved though Gordon will point to a superficially impressive seven defeats in 31 games. And even that win over the world champions failed to produce the expected rise in the FIFA rankings. Defeats to sides like Nigeria (in CHAN and a friendly), Zambia and that record 5-0 thumping at the hands of Brazil leaves Bafana in a WORSE situation than we were when Pitso Mosimane was chucked out for drawing with Ethiopia.
Igesund will say he was unfairly treated. That he never got the chance to qualify for a major tournament. But given the Ethiopia situation, he actually had a head start in the World Cup campaign, while AFCON and CHAN (both on home soil) were gifts he squandered.
Interestingly, the only achievement South Africa has managed over the last two years is down to Shakes Mashaba, whose Amajita won the COSAFA Under 20 tournament in Lesotho (Igesund’s senior side reached the final in Zambia) so we should hope that Mashaba, at 63, remains in Jordaan’s thinking.
Amid rumours about the controversial AFCON winner Steve Keshi of Nigeria, former Bafana, Real Madrid and Portugal No1 and Manchester United No2 Queiroz remains the favourite to fill the 24th vacant Bafana hotseat in 22 years.
His reputation as a developer of youth – earned with a golden generation in Portugal – and his ability to lift Iran to the top of their Asian World Cup qualifying group ahead of South Korea make Queiroz an obvious choice.
But cash will be the problem. Carlos Alberto Perreira was on a reputed R10m a year, Pitso on about R8m and Gordon on around R6m. As I understand it, Queiroz earns $12m a year with Iran. He knows and likes Roger de Sa and would probably work with him – assuming Iran have a tough time in Brazil.
But if the Iranians fall in love with Queiroz over the next six weeks and they achieve the unthinkable by qualifying for the knock-out stages, will he REALLY be tempted? How much contact has already been made, since I first saw Carlos with Danny during CHAN?
These questions will be answered in time. But not before the World Cup is over in July. That leaves precious little time for preparation before an AFCON 2015 qualifying group which features Nigeria, Sudan and probably Libya.
Many feel Igesund should have been retained. That he did the best he could - like those last two draws Down Under against Australia and New Zealand.
But the truth is, Igesund DIDN’T DO WHAT HE PROMISED. He didn’t groom young players when it mattered, he didn’t build relationships with local and foreign clubs (he suffered a plethora of withdrawals when he announced his final squad), he relied on ‘contacts’ to tell him if foreign youngsters were performing.
Gordon will no doubt return to the PSL and achieve success with a mid-ranking side like Moroka Swallows or SuperSport United. I’d even suggest he’s a better fit with Orlando Pirates than Vladimir Vermecovic.
But Gordon, you just weren’t cut out for international management. You failed on every front. It’s time for a brave new world. Let’s hope Danny Jordaan and his National Executive can provide us with something better over the coming weeks.
Don’t hold your breath.
SOCCERBALLZ! my innovative football show on www.ballz.co.za with Mark Fish airs every Thursday from 9am-11am. See Ballz' channel for our growing library of fascinating football interviews with the big names.
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FULL LIST OF FORMER BAFANA COACHES
23 in 22 years
(including caretakers/interim appointments)
23 in 22 years
(including caretakers/interim appointments)
Stanley "Screamer" Tshabalala (1992)
Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba (1992)
Augusto Palacios (1993)
Clive "The Dog" Barker (1994–97)
Jomo Sono (1998)
Philippe Troussier (1998)
Trott Moloto (1998–00)
Carlos Queiroz (2000–02)
Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba (2001)
Trott Moloto (2002)
Jomo Sono (2002)
Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba (2002–03)
Jomo Sono (2003)
April Phumo (2004)
Stuart Baxter (2004–05)
Ted Dumitru (2005–06)
Pitso Mosimane (2006)
Carlos Alberto Parreira (2007–08)
Joel Santana (2008–09)
Carlos Alberto Parreira (2009–10)
Pitso Mosimane (2010–12)
Steve Komphela (2012)
Gordon Igesund (2012–2014)