Johannesburg - Gordon Igesund’s championship-winning prowess faces arguably its stiffest test following his appointment as Bafana Bafana coach on Saturday.
While he has worked his magic on no less than four different Premiership clubs, he did that over a period of 10 months, working with the players on a daily basis. Now the multiple championship-winning coach has to produce a miracle within six months with a bunch of players he will engage with sparingly.
Such are the terms of Igesund’s two-year, performance-based contract with the South African Football Association (Safa) that the senior national team could yet be under a new coach when they resume their 2014 World Cup qualifying matches.
In announcing the National Executive Committee’s (NEC) unanimous decision – although belatedly as some incompetent member of Safa’s media department had already sent out a press release even before Igesund was called in to be told of his appointment – Safa president Kirsten Nematandani said Igesund was mandated to “at least reach the semi-final” of the Africa Cup of Nations South Africa will host in January.
His second mandate is to ensure Bafana qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil for which they’ve already had a pathetic start drawing with lowly Ethiopia and Botswana.
Nematandani said failure to fulfil the mandate would result in the association and coach severing terms.
“If that does not happen, the coach will be without a job.”
Yet with the Nations Cup coming before the resumption of the qualifiers in March, Igesund will be hard-pressed to take a side that has not participated in the previous two continental tournaments to the last four or risk swelling up the list of former Bafana coaches.
But as Nematandani said, “we need the team that will perform now, and when he presented (his plan to the NEC), Gordon’s focus was basically on performance”.
The association, said the president, will provide Igesund with support because “he is handling a national asset”.
Having sat somewhat pensively for the duration of the conference at Safa house, Igesund committed himself to ending the Bafana rot.
“I will do my very, very best to take the national team forward,” he said while thanking the president and the NEC “for having faith in me”.
“I am honoured and privileged (to have this job).”
Igesund will confer with the technical committee with regard to who he’d like to work with as assistants. Safa said that Steve Komphela’s position (he was the other coach in line for the job) as part-time assistant as well as that of No1 assistant Julio Leal, who has a contract till 2014, will only be clarified after igesund’s consultation with the technical committee.
Igesund’s first match is against Brazil away in September.