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Safa’s screwing Igesund

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Soccer writer Jonty Mark thinks Safas mandate to Gordon Igesund is madness.

The first piece of good Bafana news for some time burst like a ray of sunshine through piss-ridden clouds this weekend, as Gordon Igesund was appointed national team coach.

And then, the South African Football Association inhaled deeply from the proverbial crack pipe, and poured gussets of urine over the whole situation, with one of the more insane mandates I have seen in my years hurling text across the plains of Africa.

Igesund has been told, that in order to survive a two-year contract in charge of Bafana, he must get the team to the semifinals of the 2013 African Nations Cup, and qualify them for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Igesund, in other words, must not only breathe life into a rotting carcass of a team, horseflies chomping merrily on its ability to win a competitive match.

He must, in a matter of months, have it sprinting with the continent’s giants.

Igesund is a superb coach. To win four different PSL titles with four different sides is a ridiculously good achievement, particularly when you consider that two of those, Manning Rangers and Santos, were seriously battling the financial odds. What he did with Moroka Swallows last season was nothing short of miraculous.

He could have got the Bafana job way back in 1998, when Trott Moloto was surprisingly appointed instead, and there is no doubt that he deserves his chance now.

But he is not being helped by a Safa mandate that belongs firmly in the land of the cloud cuckoo.

Bafana Bafana have not qualified for the last two African Nations Cups, and have not made it out of the group stages at the finals since 2002. Their last semifinal appearance was in 2000.

And yet Igesund is expected to overturn years of deterioration in just a few months?

As for World Cup 2014 qualification, again, the last World Cup South Africa actually came through qualifying was for South Korea/Japan 2002.

Igesund has already been given a seriously slippery baton by sacked coach Pitso Mosimane and caretaker Steve Komphela on the road to Brazil 2014. Two points from two games at home to Ethiopia and away to Botswana has left the new coach with a mountain to climb to top Group A.

This mandate simply shows that the game in this country is being run by men living in dreamland, with no sense of the real landscape of the continental game.

I really hope Igesund excels, but my underlying feeling is that first Safa must wake up, and smell their own decay.


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