New coach has pick of young talent

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iol spt feb15 Serero Gallo Images Ajax Amsterdam star Thulani Serero leads the list of emerging, young Bafana Bafana players. Photo: Shaun Roy

Johannesburg - Gordon Igesund will land in South Africa some time on Saturday and find out that he will not be the man in the hot seat when Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign begins in September.

For months Igesund has been optimistic about keeping his job and has even spoken about a pool of players he has managed to identify to take the national team to the Cup of Nations in Morocco next year, and possibly the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

But, deep down, Igesund must have known that his chances of keeping his job were very, very slim.

He should actually have seen it coming. The humiliation of getting knocked out in the first round of the African Nations Championship in January, the probe into allegations that he pushed players to demand bonuses and the withdrawal of players from the tour of Australasia recently were signs that the man’s time with the national team was up.

Besides, Safa president Danny Jordaan never really showed that the association was keen to keep Igesund beyond the contract he signed almost two years ago.

But in Igesund’s last two matches this week – against Australia and New Zealand – he gave the nation reason to look forward to the future with a squad of players who the next Bafana coach can work wonders with if given sufficient time.

Igesund obviously did not intend to go with the players that he travelled with on the tour, but a number of withdrawals and rejected call-ups presented opportunities to other players to show that they, too, are good enough to don the national team jersey. And look what we got out of it – positive results and hope for the future.

Ajax Amsterdam’s Thulani Serero, a player I had always thought was underperforming for Bafana, showed he can be our main man in midfield. Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa showed he is good enough to wear the No 1 jersey, and Ayanda Patosi proved to be an example of how, if we search hard enough, we can find the right talent to represent us at the highest level.

Patosi did not even play in the PSL. Belgian club Lokeren signed him from ASD Academy after seeing him at a junior tournament that I attend every year, the Bayhill Premier Cup.

Safa are set to announce Carlos Queiroz as the new Bafana coach at Saturday’s national executive committee meeting, and I am hoping these are the players who the Portuguese coach will rely on to take Bafana into a new era.

However, I would have preferred for Safa to go for someone who has been coaching in Africa for quite some time, someone like Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi.

If we had Keshi as coach, I think South Africa would have a better chance of qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations and going beyond the group stages.

We are in the same group as Nigeria for the qualifiers, and Keshi would probably have a good idea on how we can finally beat the Super Eagles.

Keshi knows the South African players and, more importantly, African football.

He has built the Nigerian team, rekindling the good old days of Nigerian football when they were a dominating force on the continent.

He has given players, even the little-known ones, a chance to prove themselves in the national team.

This is what South Africa needs, someone who can rebuild a team and get us back to the days when Bafana were feared.

If they do actually announce Queiroz as coach today, Safa should give the man time and not rush him into performing miracles.

Queiroz did well to qualify for this year’s World Cup with Iran, and I am sure that if he is given the right support he can do the same for South Africa.

To end this column I would like to send my condolences to the family of legend Isaac “Shakes” Kungwane, who died on Wednesday.

Kungwane was an amazing human being and will for ever be remembered. May he rest in peace.

Independent on Saturday

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