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The positive energy with which Gordon Igesund has taken to his new challenge as Bafana Bafana head coach, should be applauded, but at the same time, he has to be reminded that such a crucial position is not a platform to transform oneself into some publicity-hungry celebrity.
Since he was appointed Bafana coach in June, I have seen, heard or read about Igesund almost every day, which is all good until you run out of things to say and resort to jibes and banalities which could, in future, be used against you.
Admirably, one of the first things that Igesund said upon taking over the job was that he would not speak ill of Pitso Mosimane’s regime, citing mutual respect for a fellow coach who ought to be treated professionally, although he may have messed up in certain areas during his two-year reign.
But even Igesund will know he has not always lived up to that promise, occasionally having a dig at his predecessor in a manner that made you wonder, if he actually knew what he was talking about.
One moment Igesund is heard using Bafana’s performances against Spain and Brazil in the Fifa Confederations Cup as an example that all is not lost, the next, he’s having a go at the “Brazilian style” of play which has been the hallmark of their games for the past five years.
This is a contradiction from a man who is yet to hold a single national camp. While Igesund may deplore that “Brazilian style”, even a coach of his abilities will not be able to change it overnight. He will have to use the same players who have disgraced the nation by failing to qualify for two African Nations Cup finals and falling at the first hurdle of the World Cup. Wholesale changes, as Ted Dumitru found out in 2006, could be disastrous, a mere five months before SA hosts the Nations Cup in January.
Condemning Mosimane’s style of play for “sticking to the failed Brazilian system” has not been the only glaring comment from Igesund. He has put his foot in it around the captaincy issue as well.
In one interview, he stated that he needed to speak to Steven Pienaar to find out if captaining Bafana was affecting his performance. He then lauded Morgan Gould, the Kaizer Chiefs defender, as a perfect example of great leader.
Naturally, the media interpreted this as Igesund advocating for a change in captaincy, and reported it accordingly, forcing the coach to back-track and insist that he had never called for such a change. But it is unbecoming to throw names around when you have not directly spoken to people involved. Igesund must cite even a single game that persuaded him to conclude that Pienaar’s performance for Bafana was affected by his captaincy of the team.
When he was done singing “Happy Birthday Madiba” on national television, Igesund could be found visiting all Premiership teams in what he said was a bid to build relationships with coaches and club owners.
It all seems a noble gesture until you think about the futility of paying a visit to the base of Maritzburg United, for instance, who for years have not had even a single player in the national side.
The truth is even if he were to stay on in the Bafana post for 10 years, Igesund would not pick his squad from all PSL teams.
But for him, it seems, criss-crossing the country was another opportunity to hit the headlines, however, futile this exercise could be in the end!
Then there was that Benni McCarthy comment, where Igesund confessed to having spoken to the Orlando Pirates man about a possible return to Bafana. McCarthy, too, had his go at Mosimane, condemning the previous Bafana coach as if he was the one who ended his international career.
Again, all this can be interpreted in different ways, and Igesund was this week at pains to “clarify” what actually transpired. But the damage has been done; McCarthy in effect has selected himself for Igesund’s squad.
The reality is that the arduous target of a Nations Cup semifinal which Igesund has been given will not be achieved through a resort to populism or the amount of times he appears on television.
The national coach should show some restraint, remain humble and know that only results, will keep him in the job.
Follow Matshe on Twitter @Nkareng