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Gordon Igesund will fulfil the seemingly near-impossible mandate set for him by the South African Football Association (Safa). At least that’s what some of the men who have experienced the new Bafana Bafana coach’s miracle work first hand would like us to believe.
“I believe he can deliver,” said Clinton Larsen, the Bloemfontein Celtic coach.
In appointing Igesund as replacement of fired Pitso Mosimane, Safa said at the weekend that the multiple-championship winning coach should at least take Bafana to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals and qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Yet, given the state the senior team and their recent record, Igesund’s acceptance of the two-year, performance-based contract is tantamount to the amiable coach committing professional suicide.
But Larsen believes otherwise: “If there’s anyone who knows how to turn teams around in a very short time, it is Gordon.”
Larsen should know having been coached by Igesund in the inaugural Premiership season at Manning Rangers. “He is amazing at raising players’ morale and confidence. And right now, we all can see that Bafana’s confidence is at an all-time low. He’s the ideal man to get them motivated.”
Larsen says Igesund will use his “psychological savvy” to get through to the players and have them performing at an optimum level.
“Gordon knows how players think and is able to find out what makes them tick. He knows how to treat them as individuals and get them playing at their best. He’ll do that with Bafana and have them delivering.”
David Notoane concurs: “One of Gordon’s strong points is his ability to manage players. I remember how he used to make me understand why he used me sparingly when I felt I deserved to play regularly. He is a good leader and I think he’ll provide good direction for the squad.”
Notoane, who was a member of Igesund’s championship-winning Santos in 2002, says Igesund is the perfect man for the kind of mandate Safa have set. “While I am of the view that we should have gone for a long-term solution to our football problems, I think Gordon is the kind of coach you need when you’re taking a gamble. He is not afraid to take chances and I think the national team give him an opportunity to put together a squad of players he believes can do the job for him as he has been previously successful.”
Lefa Tsutsulupa corroborated the issue of Igesund’s superman management skills, the captain of Moroka Swallows praising his now former coach for his ability to get the “best out of his players”.
“He is very good at planning, for every game and even scenarios in matches. But what most impressed me about him was how he managed each player individually. If he tells a player what he expects of him, he also shows and helps him how to get there.”
Will he fulfil his mandate?
“He’s the only one who can answer that. But the fact that he accepted it means he believes he can. I think, though, that the onus is not on him alone. The players must also do their part.”
Bafana defender Morgan Gould says they will: “The target the association have set is not too much of a task. We’ve spoken as players before that it is long overdue that we did well. And with the new coach, who will come in with something new, there shouldn’t be any excuses if we give him the respect he deserves and work hard. We’ve agreed that we should go all the way to win the Nations Cup at home and qualify for the World Cup.”
Igesund will no doubt hope the players’ action on the field match their words – then he’ll remain the miracle worker South African football have been craving for. – The Star