Feature: Gordon Igesund and Gavin Hunt have the personality to lead Bafana Bafana
Posted: 6 June 2012 Time: 11:44
We've seen dour, negative coaches, both local and foreign, come and go. Bafana Bafana more than ever needs someone with a big personality to lead us forward.
Forget coaching badges and forget former greats of the game, what we need more than ever is a people's person to lead the senior national team.
In this country, more so than many others, we have a pool of footballers who come from vastly varied backgrounds; our rainbow nation players come from a host of different races, religions and socio-economic circumstances.
With a coach who fails to appreciate and adapt to this fact, it can become our Achilles' heel. But with a coach who grasps the complexities and harmonises the team accordingly, it can become our biggest asset.
Brazil are a perfect case in point, their multi-ethnicity having contributed to their perfect blend of flair and tactical discipline over the years. The France of the late 1990s is another example – when players of African decent were thrown into the mix, the French became world beaters. The German national team of recent years provides further proof, so too the Dutch side.
The point being, our diverse population should be working to our advantage, yet, without the right man at the helm, it has not been. This is why I can only hope that Safa are looking internally for the next coach, which only really leaves two serious options: Gavin Hunt and Gordon Igesund. Which man do you want for the job? Have your say on our Facebook page HERE!
Either man could do the job, but I believe Igesund has the edge over Hunt in terms of his ability to galvanise a team. With some exceptions, South African players lack emotional maturity. Our players prefer the arm around the shoulder to the hair-dryer approach.
Igesund can demand authority when he needs to, but for the most part, he provides a father-like figure, which is exactly what we need right now.
His vast experience has taught him to understand the individual needs of South African players. Like a Sir Alex Ferguson, he knows how to protect his players in public. He knows what to say to create the right perception around his players and team, he knows how to deflect pressure away from his players.
At international level, ability levels amongst players are more or less on a par, with the exception of the individual greats that is.
If you want to win a World Cup, or a Champions League, you generally need a Ronaldo, an Iniesta, a Drogba or a Messi. We don't have these players, but we're not however chasing such glories right now – qualification for Brazil 2014, a last eight place at Africa Cup of Nations, are what we need.
And we do have the talent to do that. It's a case of the players believing in themselves – sport at the highest levels is played very much in the head. It's about confidence, self-belief, harmony in a squad.
This was Pitso Mosimane's biggest downfall. He may or may not have been tactically astute, but it was his personality – sulky, negative, some have said arrogant, that saw the team moving backward, especially when the pressure mounted.
You (the public) and I (the media) didn't help either; together we have helped to create a hostile and negative environment, which would have filtered down to the players. We need to all make a concerted effort to support the new man, and not to become impatient when things don't change overnight.
It's a cliché, but Igesund more than anyone has the personality to be our next Clive Barker. But for this to be effective, fans also need to come to the party, to recreate an atmosphere, if not similar to 1996, then at least conducive to positivity.
We need also to remember where to distinguish where to draw the line in terms of the blame game. It is not a national team coach's fault that a striker cannot convert a simple chance – I agree with Pitso on that one.
Igesund has shown, at Moroka Swallows, at Santos, at Manning Rangers, that he can get players to perform above themselves. That's exactly what Bafana Bafana needs right now for the short term.
For the longer term, its back to Safa again, where the usual applies: we need better structured development, a clear football philosophy, and as Roger de Sa pointed out, continuity between youth international teams and Bafana Bafana.
This has to be Safa's biggest priority after they have named the new coach. They need to sit down and fast-track a comprehensive blueprint so that in years to come the head coach benefits from the pyramid below him, rather than bearing the brunt of an inadequate system, which Pitso may rightly claim to have been the victim of.