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Gordon Igesund formation question ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations match against Angola

Posted: 23 January 2013 Time: 09:20

KICK OFF editor Richard Maguire believes the Bafana Bafana that lined up against Cape Verde was not Gordon Igesund’s team – and urges the coach to picking his starting XI without fear of criticism or failure.

Gordon Igesund has told his players ‘don’t be scared’ – but it starts with the coach: I urge him to select a team and set it out without any fear of criticism or failure.

That was not Igesund’s team we saw lining up against Cape Verde on the opening day of Afcon 2013. It is not Igesund’s style to bench his best player, nor is it his style to drop a tried and tested performer for a crucial match.

I respect the logic behind picking a successful club strike-combination (Bernard Parker and Lehlohonolo Majoro) in favour of a known goal-poacher who is short of match fitness (Katlego Mphela).

What I’m struggling with is the omission of South Africa’s best player, Thulani Serero. And I’m mystified by the decision to bench Dean Furman, around whom Igesund was building his midfield.

This smacked of last-minute tinkering, and it smelled of fear, the fear of criticism, the fear of failure. And that is why I say it as not Gordon’s team, because he does not normally fear criticism, nor failure – he has proved over 20 years that he knows what he is doing.

As I watched our astoundingly pathetic performance in the first half against Cape Verde, when the midfield had no rhythm, no system, and no ability to string three decent passes together, I was left wondering if it is the same with all Bafana Bafana coaches; are they all struck by a curse – the curse of the draw. Do they all fear defeat so much that a draw is the ‘new win’?

CLICK HERE for more on the 2013 Afcon

I don’t read Igesund that way. But I was dismayed by his decision to bench Serero. Apparently Serero was not up to the required level of match-fitness yet, and the coach feared his star man would not match the tempo of the rest of the team’s play.

Yet there was absolutely no tempo to Bafana’s play! No rhythm, no pattern, no plan. Cape Verde – a team of expats representing a tiny island nation played with more cohesion, pattern and purpose. If they had an incisive finisher, they would have won the match.

Serero, in the second half, at least brought a semblance of intelligence and craft to the middle of the park.

The absence of Furman has not been explained – and we missed his simple, unfussy play; the way in which he keeps the game ticking over in the centre, keeps circulating the ball. Reneilwe Letsholonyane’s random bursts of forward activity were no substitute.

Starting without Serero, Furman and Mphela meant this: Igesund had a strong bench, and a weak starting XI.

Is that the way to victory? I suggest not.

Against Angola this afternoon, play for victory, coach; banish the fear factor. Take a half-time lead, and then think about the substitutions.

With all this in mind, I would like to see Bafana take to the field in a 4-2-3-1 system; the ‘3’ holding the key to getting the goal(s).

I would like to see Tokelo Rantie starting up front – he has ability on the ball, awareness, and can hold up play and bring other men into action in the penalty area.

The other men I refer to would be May Mahlangu on the left, Serero behind Rantie and Parker on the right. Parker on the right because I would want him to cut in and join Rantie in 18 area as much as possible; same for Mahalangu on the other side.

Forget playing with wide midfielders who must get down the line and cross. Crossing is not our strong point; nor is getting on the end of cross. Rather employ quick inter-passing to get numbers into the danger areas.

And the bench will be 'strong'  – both Mphela and Majoro promising attacking options if a change is needed.

I accept that certain entrenched weaknesses do force Igesund’s hand, and that he needs to err on the side of caution in some areas.

And that is why I would see Letsholonyane doing the job alongside Furman. If this is not working, If 'Yeye' does not hold his position, the ‘forgotten’ Oupa Manyisa would come into play.

So I am advocating what most fans hate – the selection of two defensive midfielders. I suspect a major reason why Pitso Mosimane and the Brazilian coaches before him selected in this way was because they did not believe Bafana would score a goal. It was their security blanket. Fear.

I accept it is sensible and pragmatic to select two deep-lying midfielders now, not because of fear, but because our centre-back pairing is as jittery as any I can remember.

We miss Gould, but there is nothing we can do about that. So the back four remains as it is, for better or for worse.

Thank goodness for Itu Khune …

Good luck Gordon – you’re going to need it … in one afternoon, you have to rid Bafana of the fear of failure that has haunted them for years. This might be your greatest challenge yet: far greater than turning Manning Rangers and Santos into champions; much bigger than converting Swallows from relegation candidates to title contenders.

Get it right, and you may well go down in history as South Africa’s greatest ever coach.

KICK OFF editor Richard Maguire

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Previous comments on this story...

Bucsaway Trebble Champ
posted: 09:28 am
All Bafunny BaChimps faithfools better prepare for heart attacks tonight, make sure you have the Disprin Chadiocre at your disposal, for tonight will be the true revelation of what we've been preaching in December. I will be chilling with my Castle Lites watching Hlokoloza being Libolofied

Once And Always
League medal
posted: 09:29 am
Interesting article, i escho the same sentiments, Gordon was a coward on Saturday.With that all behind us, i support your proposed line up, with Mphela,Shabba,Majoro & Phala on the bench.BB has never played with wingers, even the 1996 team did not have wingers, why try to whip in crosses while we all know that there is no South African striker who can head the ball?unless if we play Sangweni as a striker.
Tibos [Khosi-FOUR-Life]
posted: 09:31 am
haha at the picture they look so serious
posted: 09:32 am
In days like this one cant help but miss Wilson Raj Perumal of the Football 4U fame
posted: 09:35 am
I agree bt upfront we need majoro or mphela
posted: 09:36 am
Since MR Maguire knows so much (he even knows that was not Gordon's team - I wonder how he knows this or better still does Gordon know that that was not his team) Richard you must go and coach the. Stop making excuses for Gordon, that was his team and it is him who will be fired soon.
posted: 09:36 am
well said mr editor.
Mriyo The Champ
posted: 09:37 am
Its time to drop underachievers and play wit proven is a line up from a champ Bucs fan who knows a winning team:wena Igasende,use the 4-3-3 formation with the following players

Gaxa Khumalo Sangweni Masilela

Serero Manyisa
Phala Matlaba (wil play beta dan Shabba as winger)
Rantie (speed is wats needed against Angola)
The Phefeni Boy
posted: 09:37 am
Durban here we come in full Bafana Bafana gears...we will be in Morningside Florida Road after the game.

The Phefeni Boy and his protégés will be in town.....We will be there till Sunday.
Legendary Wonder
posted: 09:37 am
How many times ha sGould turn out for Bafana in his career? he has never been a pillar for Bafana for as long as i can remember, now that he plays for Chiefs we are made to believe he is the missing link at the back? come on rich.

Nothing will be better than benching Shabba, Phala, Majoro and Parker, those players are just not cut out for the big job!
posted: 09:38 am
Do we look like some zebras who cares nor does Igesende aint care abt ya cr*p...
Gucci Man
posted: 09:40 am
Good luck boys , go there and fight for the nation.
We need to create chances and capitalise on their mistakes this afternoon .

Their defence isn't convincing , we just need to watch their wing players and that former Man U striker , he very good with his first touch , and also earial balls .
posted: 09:41 am
Well said Mr.
Go for it GI

The Phefeni Boy
posted: 09:42 am
Dean Furman.....It is his time to show South Africa that he is worth more than what most people think.

The boy will shine this evening....Gordon better start with him.
posted: 09:45 am
posted: 09:32 am | Report
In days like this one cant help but miss Wilson Raj Perumal of the Football 4U fame
I'm in stitches man.
posted: 09:45 am
I wish GI could read this article..
Happy Person
posted: 09:47 am
4 blind mice
Tibos [Khosi-FOUR-Life]
posted: 09:48 am
Please dnt disappoint us today GI and Bafana we will be at the stadium as your 12th men to give you an extra hand MM stadium its where weare going to be at. My starting XI
Itumeleng Khune

Siboniso Gaxa--------Siyabonga Sangweni--------Bongani Khumalo-------Thabo Matlaba

Thuso Pala------Dean Furman------Opa Manyisa------Siphiwe Tshabalala

Thulani Serero-------Kahlego Maphela.

Wayne Sandilands
Anele Ngconca
Bernad Parker
Yeye Letsolonyane
posted: 09:48 am
if mphela is lackng game time when last dd ur mzansi finnest last to feature in Amsterdam fixture. Dont publsh #### here man. Parker 50caps 12goals and mphela 22 on 50caps he always deliver on big matches. Next time get ur facts straight b4 u spread ur pure hatred on mphela. Do t for da nation mphela 2nght like u always do. Killlleeeer
Sebastian Veron
posted: 09:48 am
Furman/Manyisa, Letsholonyane, Mahlangu, Serero could make a huge difference in that middle of the park,
Mphela, Rantie combo could arguably the deadliest provided Serero plays closer to them,

veder of the best gents!!!!
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