Cape Town – Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund says he was not under pressure to reach the semi-finals of the African Nations Championship (Chan) and is proud of his record since he took over as national coach.
“From a personal point-of-view, I had no mandate for this competition. We wanted to do as best as we could,” Igesund said after South Africa crashed out of the continental competition following a heavy 3-1 defeat to Nigeria in their final group A clash at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday.
“I’m at peace with myself and I’m at peace with where we are at the moment.
“Whatever Safa need to do – whatever they want to do and if they think it’s time for a change – I can live with that.”
Needing a draw to secure their spot in the quarterfinals of the tournament, Bafana soon fell behind and were down 3-0 before Bernard Parker got one back via the penalty spot.
Igesund took over as national coach in June 2012 on a two-year contract although the SA Football Association (Safa) could decide to terminate his contract earlier.
“If I had to leave tomorrow, I’d say I’ve done a very good job. I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve and there’s still lots of work to be done. It’s still a work in progress,” he said.
“It’s not in my hands. I work for people and (on Monday) I’ll go to work and continue. I have a job to do and we’ll just keeping working hard and start helping to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.”
Parker, who scored his 23rd international goal – making him joint-third top scorer for South Africa – netted a third successive goal from the penalty spot, but it proved to be too little for Bafana, who headed out of the tournament in a week where they had climbed eight spots in the Fifa World Rankings to 54th and moved to 10th position in Africa.
“We gave it our best shot. We made a couple of errors defensively and Nigeria capitalised,” Igesund said.
“What went wrong? We were beaten by the better team on the day. They were physical and they were nice and strong.
“They played fairly, but they had a physical presence that we never had. Today we lost it but life goes on. It’s not the end of the world for us.
“We would have liked to have gone further, but we had a lot of players missing today. I can name seven players that might have been in the starting line-up if they were available. But that’s no excuse. I think the guys gained some valuable experience and really learnt a lot from today’s game.”
The win was enough to see Nigeria safely through to the quarterfinals, having needed nothing short of three points to guarantee a spot in the knockout rounds of the tournament reserved exclusively for players plying their trade in their local leagues only.
The Super Eagles finished the group on six points, leap-frogging the South Africans and one point short of Mali, who advanced as the top side with seven points, following a 2-1 victory over Mozambique in the other game of the day.
Igesund shifted his attention beyond the tournament to the bigger picture and took the opportunity to focus on some of the positives he and the team had achieved since he took over as national coach two years ago and said he still had plenty to offer Safa in the future.
“Somewhere along the line, whenever you get employed, you get employed to be fired eventually at some time but I’m quite happy where I am,” Igesund said.
“We have played 28 games, we’ve won 14 of those, that’s 50 percent. We’ve lost seven and we’ve drawn seven.
“Along the way we’ve beaten Spain and we’ve scored 40 goals. So we are still working and going forward. There have been huge improvements in our football, which I’m quite happy about.
“Obviously this is a great opportunity for people to get on and say whatever they want to say, but that’s fine. If you look at the record, I’m quite happy with it and there aren’t many records better than that at the moment.” – Sapa