And the Bafana job goes to....

Soccer Writer John Golitah looks at the two candidates for the vacant Bafana job, and compares them over fiver different categories.

Gordon Igesund

Gordon Igesund (left) and Steve Komphela. Credit: Gallo Images

Tactical savvy and style of play

Igesund likes a direct style that doesn’t always sit well with South African football supporters. A season after winning the league with Orlando Pirates, he was fired because the supporters didn’t approve of the gameplan. But he again showed this season at Moroka Swallows that he can still create magic with a compact midfield and a willing runner upfront. So, would you rather like to see your team playing exciting football and win nothing, or play a hard, disciplined game and compete for a trophy? Four league titles with four different teams, and a couple of second-place finishes, is the greatest record in South African football, and it’s hard to argue with that.


Igesund can do wonders with a good, experienced squad. He has this uncanny ability to take inflated egos and channel them into a certain direction that is going to benefit the team. This season at Moroka Swallows, he also took a bunch of under-achievers and moulded them into a unit that fought for the league until the last day of the season. Igesund unlocked the undoubted potential of David Mathebula this past season, while veteran striker Siyabonga Nomvethe scored 20 goals in the league on 34-year-old legs. However, it’s well-documented that players tend to get tired of his methods after a while, and that’s why he hasn’t always stayed at a football club for more than a couple of seasons.

Courage to defy the bosses

Igesund likes to do his own thing, and he expects his bosses to buy into his thinking because they hired him to achieve a specific goal. Igesund is not going to be influenced as far as selections and gameplan is concerned – in many ways, the type of Bafana coach who hasn’t always seen eye to eye with his bosses at Safa. And that sort of relationship can be strenuous, especially if you don’t know who to trust. The Bafana job is a political minefield, and Igesund is bound to step on a few toes.

Public and media pressure

Igesund’s smile can probably melt butter. A real charmer on and off camera, and there’s no question he hasn’t already answered or managed to dodge during his time as a coach in the top flight. He is the people’s favourite for the job, because they like a champion. However, how the people, and certain sections of the media, accept his methods and style of play could determine his success as a coach. If he is under pressure, he will have to roll with the punches, and sometimes for older coaches that is not as easy because of their stubbornness.

Scouting and talent-spotting

Most of the teams Igesund has led to the league title have been established units, or sides who know their way around a football pitch. Rarely has Igesund put his trust in a young player to deliver the goods. And with the current Bafana team needing a shake-up, with one eye on the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, the new coach will have to throw the net wider than the players who have featured since the 2008 African Nations Cup in Ghana.

Steve Komphela

Komphela considers himself a student of the game, a man who spends hours trying to improve himself as a coach. He is “new school”, supporting his arguments with PowerPoint presentations. However, don’t let the this iPad-wielding coach fool you, he does know what he’s talking about when it comes to the beautiful game. Komphela turned Free State Stars into a well-organised unit who played a smart brand of football this past season. They had a nice shape and didn’t kick the ball away like we have seen in the past. However, Komphela hasn’t achieved anything in terms of winning silverware. His disastrous tenure with the South African under-23 side is also still fresh in people’s minds.

Komphela doesn’t have the biggest budget in the world at Stars, but he managed to gel the Free State outfit into a team willing to go to war for him. Komphela isn’t the type of coach who screams himself hoarse on the touchline, and this is something the fragile psyche of the typical South African footballer appreciates. Having played at the highest level himself, Komphela knows first hand what it takes to get the best out of our players. However, will he able to be hard on a player or make tough decisions that could make him unpopular in an environment full of inflated egos?

Some would say Komphela is Safa’s ideal man for the job because of his quiet demeanour and his willingness to steer clear of conflict. Although this season he has spoken out on a variety of subjects, including the shoddy refereeing decisions that his team suffered during the latter part of the season. But in this job, you need to have a thick skin, and I don’t know if Komphela is quite wired in that way.

Somebody tweeted the other day that journalists need to take their dictionaries to his press conferences when he took over as interim coach after Pitso Mosimane was given the boot. Komphela loves to wax lyrical about the beautiful game, in an English more pompous than the Queen. But he is always good for a soundbite, and will be a popular figure in sports offices at newspapers around the country. However, he is not the public’s favourite for the job, and will have to use his cunning tongue to talk himself out of a corner if things don’t go his way.

Komphela has a great eye for talent. The biggest example of his ability to unearth a rough diamond is striker Edward Manqele. Manqele was taken out of the trenches of the Vodacom League and set the Premiership and the cup competitions alight with his goal-scoring ability. Komphela knows the South African game and can distinguish between a Ferrari and an old crock. He might just be the man to freshen up the national team – personnel-wise anyway.

And the vote goes to ...

In a time of crisis, you go for the man with the most experience. You go for a man who knows his way around the South African game, a man who commands the respect of his peers. Gordon Igesund is that man. He has come close before, and it would be a travesty if he is not given a chance to coach Bafana in his lifetime. Give Gordon Igesund the job! – Cape Times

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