Johannesburg - Leading the national team was the highlight of my career, outgoing Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“It has been my distinct privilege and honour, the highlight of my career to have been the South African men's senior national soccer team coach for the last two years,” Igesund said, reading from a prepared statement and addressing the media for the last time as national coach.
The SA Football Association (Safa) on Monday announced Igesund's contract would not be extended past August, following a failure to fulfil his mandate to qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
Igesund said he was delighted to have had the opportunity to coach Bafana between 2012 and 2014.
“Of course I am deeply disappointed with Safa's decision undertaken yesterday [Monday] to not extend my contract beyond August,” he said.
“However, this is football and it's the nature of the game.”
Igesund took charge of his final two games when Bafana travelled to Australasia in May, where an exciting new breed of young players held World Cup-bound Australia to a 1-1 draw, before ending in a goalless draw with New Zealand four days later.
Igesund singled out Bafana's shock 1-0 victory over World and European champions Spain in 2013 as one of his most memorable moments.
“The victory over current World champions Spain will be a night I will never forget and South Africa should 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 and we must never forget that.”
In total, Igesund oversaw 32 games as national coach, winning 14, drawing nine and losing nine as well.
“All in all, looking back, as a South African I am incredibly proud of the fact that we have seen the team move up the world Fifa rankings while under my tenure and hope we can continue to do so moving forward under my successor.”
The 57-year-old, who is keeping mum on his future, said what was particularly pleasing to him was the fact that a number of youngsters were given an opportunity to show their worth during his time as coach.
“Many young players introduced under my reign, some of which, like Dean Furman, May Mahlangu and Ayanda Patosi, for example, have gone on to establish themselves as true leaders and future stars of this team of ours.”
Safa confirmed on Monday that an extensive search for Igesund's replacement was already well under way, with former coach Carlos Queiroz and Stephen Keshi seemingly favourites to battle it out for the position.
Igesund, meanwhile, wanted only what was best for the national team.
“I believe this team can do wonderful things with the vast talent I have seen and I believe I hand over a national team that is in a far better state than the one I inherited.”