It appears South African football is going to once again take a short cut to success. And while the decision might seem right at the moment, don’t rule out the possibility of us being back where we are now – looking for a new coach – in a short while.
The South African Football Association’s national executive committee (Safa NEC) are expected to go against the recommendation of their technical committee and appoint Gordon Igesund ahead of Steve Komphela as Bafana Bafana coach on Saturday.
This “business decision” would be based on Safa’s desire to regain corporate confidence as well as appease a nation tired of seeing their national senior team being the continent’s laughing stock.
“Whatever people might say about the need for development and the importance of the junior teams doing well, Safa are judged by how Bafana perform,” said an association insider. “And while they may have long-term ambitions, Safa know that it will do them good to get the senior team performing well right now.”
Bafana’s poor results – which range from failure to qualify for the last two Africa Cup of Nations, being the first-ever World Cup host nation to be knocked out in the first round, to a pathetic start to the qualifiers for the next global showpiece – have placed the association under pressure to buck the trend immediately.
And there’s overwhelming consensus that Igesund is better placed than Komphela to stem the tide – perhaps rightly so, given the multiple-championship winning coach’s ability to work his magic on even the deadest of teams. And they don’t come as dead as Bafana are right now.
Igesund’s miraculous transformation of Moroka Swallows, which saw him moving them from a winless, relegation-bound side to a championship-challenging outfit within a season-and-a-half is seen by most as something akin to Lazarus’ miracle.
And because of this, as well as Igesund’s championship wins with lowly Manning Rangers and Santos, calls for the amiable coach to be rewarded with the country’s top job have been ringing so loud, the Safa NEC might find it hard to ignore – the long-term effects of the decision notwithstanding.
While qualification for Brazil 2014 might see Bafana becoming the country’s beloved soccer side again, have business keen to invest in the association and thus swell their bank balance, which is reportedly drying up, it won’t be the magic wand that takes away the local game’s ills.
Success aside, what the local game needs is a massive bottom-to-top overhaul that requires a long-term plan – a semblance of which Komphela apparently impressed upon the technical committee he is capable of doing way better than Igesund could. But Safa aren’t about to tell a nation as impatient – and sometimes delusional about it’s standing in world football – as ours to wait 10 years for Bafana to produce results, are they?
Instead, just like they did when they hired Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, they will probably appoint Igesund in the hope he works his magic on Bafana so the likes of us (the media) and the angry soccer public get off their back. We all know how the former World Cup winner fared with our national team, now don’t we?
Should he get the job, Igesund faces a torrid baptism into international football – Bafana having to honour a hectic schedule before the World Cup qualifiers resume in March. There’s the clash with Brazil in their backyard early in September (7), followed four days later by a friendly against tough Algeria at home. A trip to Poland follows a month later, and anyone who has seen the Poles at Euro 2012 will readily admit that the match is tantamount to Bafana heading for a footballing lesson.
African champions Zambia then visit for a Nelson Mandela Challenge clash in November, before the Africa Cup of Nations we’re hosting at the beginning of next year. The nature of the biennial continental showpiece is almost knockout style, a format of the beautiful game Igesund is no master of. Failure to emulate Clive Barker’s class of ’96 by conquering the continent on home soil and calls for his removal from the hot-seat will reverberate with the same noise as it did for Pitso Mosimane and many others before him. And you can bet Safa will listen, as they always have.
It is for this reason that they are likely to offer Komphela the assistant coaching post, more as the go-to-guy should Igesund not live up to expectations. Such is SA football’s short-term thinking, when all we should be doing is learning from the Germans and overhauling our entire football structure. No one can say it doesn’t work … or Germany wouldn’t be in the Euro semis. – Star Africa