Gordon Igesund admitted on Tuesday he was “deeply disappointed” to lose his job as Bafana Bafana coach, but put on a brave face as he wished his successor well for the future.
Igesund refused to take questions as he held a press conference at Safa House, a sign that perhaps he was in more distress than he was prepared to let on after being told by the South African Football Association (Safa) that his contract would not be renewed once it expires at the end of August. “It has been my distinct privilege and honour, the highlight of my career, to have been the South African men’s senior national team coach,” said Igesund, reading a prepared statement.
“Of course I am deeply disappointed with Safa’s decision to not extend my contract beyond August. However this is football and it’s the nature of the game.”
Igesund sat alongside Bafana assistant coach Serame Letsoaka and goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia, both of whom will leave their posts with Igesund.
“I would like to thank the likes of Danny Jordaan, Serame Letsoaka, Barney Kujane and Alex Heredia who have worked closely with me throughout this journey,” said the Bafana coach.
“Together we have had a good run, which has seen the foundations having been laid for the vision, and the plan I had for Bafana Bafana in order to move them forward.”
Igesund highlighted the effect made by younger players such as Dean Furman, May Mahlangu and Ayanda Patosi.
He also expressed satisfaction that Bafana had overcome their old goalscoring problems.
“Over the last 32 matches we have managed to score in excess of 1.5 goals a game,” said Igesund.
The 57-year-old Durbanite was at pains to give details of his record as Bafana coach.
With Bafana he lost two competitive matches – to Ethiopia in the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, and to Nigeria at the African Nations Championships.
He also noted Bafana’s friendly win over Spain in November as “a night I will never forget and South Africa will never forget.
“That game, that result, is an indication of what is possible with a plan and a vision.
“Bafana does have the talent and ability to compete and defeat the very best.
“I am incredibly proud of the fact that we have seen the team move up the world Fifa rankings whilst under my tenure and I hope we can continue to do so under my successor.
“Whoever that is, I wish him all the best with his appointment, and will always be available to assist Bafana wherever possible.
“I believe I hand over a team that is in a far better state than the one I inherited.”
Bafana’s competitive record under Igesund saw them win seven, draw five, and lose two of 14 games.
One of the draws included the penalty shootout exit against Mali at the African Nations Cup last year.
Ultimately, Jordaan has indicated that Igesund’s failure to meet his mandate to reach at least the semi-finals of last year’s African Nations Cup on home soil, and to qualify for and reach the group stages of this year’s World Cup has led the association to look for a new coach.
Safa were expected to name the new coach by mid-July at the latest, with Carlos Queiroz and Stephen Keshi believed to be among the top candidates.
Both would only be available after the World Cup finals in Brazil, with Keshi and Queiroz ironically set to face each other as Nigeria take on Iran in Curitiba on June 16. – The Star