Johannesburg - The coach who inherits the poison chalice that is the Bafana Bafana job will be starting his tenure on the back foot, after the South African Football Association (Safa) confirmed on Monday that Gordon Igesund will not continue as coach of the senior national team.
The 57-year-old Igesund is the 17th coach Safa has employed since re-admission to international football in 1992.
Safa president Danny Jordaan added that the search would begin for a new coach, with Iran coach Carlos Queiroz and Nigeria African Cup of Nations-winning coach Stephen Keshi believed to be among the names on the shortlist.
The Star understands that Jordaan has already spoken to former Manchester United assistant coach Queiroz about the position. Jordaan, however, refused to comment on any names in connection with the vacant role.
Both former Bafana coach Queiroz and Keshi will be only be available after the Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
Igesund’s contract expires on August 30, and if the new coach only takes over on September 1, it will give him only a few days to prepare Bafana for their first Afcon 2015 qualifier away to Sudan on the weekend of September 5/6, before hosting reigning champions Nigeria a few days later on Wednesday, September 10.
Igesund appeared before a Safa technical committee on Monday to explain, among other matters, why he had failed to meet the mandates in his contract – to qualify for and get out of the group stages of the 2014 World Cup; and to reach at least the semi-finals of the 2013 African Nations Cup.
Igesund, though, also started his tenure on the back foot when he took over from Pitso Mosimane in July 2012.
Back then Bafana only managed two draws from their first two 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia at home and Botswana away. And while Igesund managed to win three out of the remaining four qualifiers, Bafana didn’t get into the next round of qualifying.
The biggest highlight of Igesund’s time at the helm of the national team was a 1-0 win over a full-strength Spain side at Soccer City last year.
Speculation surrounding Igesund’s job started to hot up after Bafana failed to make it out of the group stages of the African Nations Championships on home soil at the beginning of the year.
Igesund delivered a 90-minute presentation on Monday in an attempt to save his job, but it was clearly not enough for the association.
“If you are in a university and the requirement is that you pass, and then you fail – if there is more to it, I don’t know. The criteria was set, and was not achieved,” said Jordaan on the reasons why Igesund was not allowed to continue.
Jordaan said the mandate of the new coach would be to build Bafana into a successful, competitive team once again.
“The first challenge is qualification for the 2015 African Nations Cup in Morocco, then the 2017 Nations Cup in Libya, and ultimately the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“We will look in every nook and cranny and speak to as many people as we can to find the best coach, or combination of coaches who can rebuild Bafana’s competitive spirit.”