As Gordon Igesund prepares to learn about his fate as Bafana Bafana coach, it has emerged that the SA Football Association’s top brass are divided over whether to get rid of him now or to allow him to serve out his contract.
Igesund’s contract expires at the end of June. While it is almost certain it won’t be renewed, his immediate future will be decided today by the Safa international affairs and technical committees.
Bafana’s dismal performance at the African Nations Championship (Chan), where they were bundled out in the first round, saw Igesund lose support among even his strongest backers in the Safa hierarchy, but the allegation that he tried to influence players to demand higher bonuses is the main reason why today’s meeting has been called.
Several football heavyweights, including Safa president Danny Jordaan, vice-president Irvin Khoza and Kaizer Chiefs owner Kaizer Motaung, will be part of today’s meeting, where Igesund will first present a report on why the team failed so dismally in Chan before being grilled about the bonus allegations.
A Safa insider, who could not comment on record ahead of today’s meeting, said Igesund – if cleared of the allegations – would be able to hang on to his job, allowing him to pick the team for next month’s high-profile friendly clash against Brazil at FNB Stadium, as well as the May 25 away friendly against Australia’s Socceroos.
There’s another proposed friendly – against Iran just before the World Cup kicks off in Brazil – and that most likely would be Igesund’s last game in charge if he survives today.
Safa have denied that they held talks with Iran coach Carlos Queiroz about replacing Igesund after the World Cup, although it is known Queiroz flew specifically to South Africa last month for such talks.
Safa, our source says, would allow Igesund to complete his contract if he proves his innocence against claims that he actively encouraged Bafana players to demand more money before Chan and days before their fateful group clash against Nigeria, which they lost to bow out at the first hurdle.
Firing Igesund for that poor performance was not an option, according to our source, because he would seek litigation, which is something Safa could not afford, especially in a week where they parted with millions to settle a labour dispute with former coach Pitso Mosimane.
With just five months to go before his contract ends, Igesund is not considered too expensive to dispense with. Although with a package of around R500 000 per month he earns almost half of what Mosimane received, Safa may find it hard to fork out R2.5 million to settle his contract, while employing someone in the interim.
One of many factors counting against Igesund ahead of today’s sitting is a claim that he has lost respect among senior Bafana players, some of whom apparently alerted Safa bosses about the coach’s alleged active role in bonus demands. He must also explain why he went against counsel to pick an ageing team, when Safa and the Premier Soccer League had agreed that Chan would be used for development purposes. – The Star