I suppose there are bleaker scenarios, in the wake of failing to make it to a World Cup in Brazil, than to be invited to play a friendly in a Moroccan seaside city.
It might not have the glamour or spectacular beauty of Rio De Janeiro, but Agadir City, where Bafana Bafana will play the Atlas Lions on October 11 does, with a quick glance at the ever-reliable internet, look to have some nice long sandy beaches of its own.
And when you’ve failed to make it for a World Cup finals, your inability to qualify for major tournaments once again sticking out like the sorest of thumbs, you have to cling on to the most tenuous of positives.
Bafana have been invited to Agadir by fellow World Cup flops Morocco, as part of the celebrations of the opening of the literally named Agadir New Stadium (in 10 years time will they call it the Agadir Not-So-New Stadium?).
The stadium will be used in Morocco’s hosting of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, now the next dream available to Gordon Igesund’s side.
Igesund said yesterday, with supreme confidence, as he announced the squad for the Morocco friendly, that Bafana would make it to both the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia.
I’m not quite sure on what factual basis Igesund made these brash statements, but hey, I started this column rambling on about beaches.
I will say, that Igesund deserves the chance to take Bafana, at the very least, into qualifying for Morocco 2015 at the end of next year.
His contract expires at the end of the World Cup in Brazil, but my hope is that Danny Jordaan and the South African Football Association give him at least one more chance.
When Igesund says he won “three out of four” World Cup 2014 qualifiers at the helm and “can’t do more than that,” it does not take an owner of a calculator to work out the problem. Gordon, you could have won against Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. That, sir, would have been “more than that”.
Yet my statistical pedantry, if you will, is also slightly disingenuous.
Igesund did lose to Ethiopia, but he did also take over a side that had two points from their opening two qualifiers. It is impossible to know whether the Bafana coach would have done better than Pitso Mosimane or Steve Komphela managed in games at home to Ethiopia or away to Botswana.
But there is no-one who can say the man does not deserve an entire qualifying campaign to himself, before casting him aside. His guiding of Bafana to the quarter-finals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations also had plenty of merit.
So here’s hoping Igesund can lead us into a bright new dawn. My word we need one. - The Star