At last! After years of bumbling around, the South African Football Association (SAFA) has finally managed to appoint the best possible coach for the national team - Gordon Igesund, who took over the fortunes of Bafana Bafana on 1 July 2012. Media and football fans alike have been clamouring for Igesund for several years now, but for some reason SAFA kept ignoring him. Now, at last, his proven pedigree as a football coach has been recognized with the top job in the country.
In his playing days in the 1970's and 1980's Gordon Igesund was a prolific striker for several professional clubs in South Africa, as well as GAK and Admira Wacker in Austria. After retiring as a player he moved into coaching and has enjoyed exceptional success since then - he is the only coach in South African football history to have taken four different clubs to the premier league (PSL) title. On two of those occasions it was with unfancied teams who had never previously been in the reckoning for major trophies. He has also twice received the PSL "Coach of the Season" award.
As a coach, Igesund's championship-winning seasons and clubs were:
|1996/1997||: Manning Rangers|
|2000/2001||: Orlando Pirates|
|2006/2007||: Mamelodi Sundowns|
Perhaps even more impressive is Igesund's achievement at Moroka Swallows, a club which was struggling when he took over the reins in November 2010. In the season before his arrival Swallows had avoided relegation from the premier league by the narrowest of margins, but within one year Igesund had transformed them into an outfit that came very close to winning the premier league title in 2011/2012 ; only a 4-2 victory in the last match of the season allowed Pirates to sneak ahead of Swallows on the points table.
So South Africa's national football team has finally got the best possible coach. Hopefully this will begin a turnaround in fortunes for Bafana Bafana, who have been on a steady downward spiral since the heady days of 1996 when we won the African Nations Cup and were ranked first in Africa and in the top 20 teams in the world. For the sake of all the loyal fans out there, who have supported Bafana Bafana through thick and (mostly) thin, I really hope so.