Everyone knew it was going to happen; what we wanted to know was who would replace Igesund as the national team starts preparing for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
So SAFA president Danny Jordaan’s comment that “the process for finding a new coach will start immediately after this press conference” was hugely worrying.
Bafana’s first qualifier – a daunting trip away to Sudan – is on September 5/6 … that’s three months from now. During that time we need to still find a coach who must then familiarise himself with players and get them to understand and buy into his style?
But then we have a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot over the last two decades, be it the firing of a coach just as a major tournament is about to start, or waiting till the last minute to wield the axe during qualifiers.
That being said, I don’t believe for one second that SAFA has not already contacted their next coach.
Rumours abound that negotiations have already taken place with former Bafana coach Carlos Queiroz, and that they are only waiting until after his World Cup duties with Iran end to make this public knowledge.
If this is the case, it would signify some serious egg on the face for the governing body given their ungracious sacking of the Portuguese coach just before the 2002 World Cup – for which he qualified the team.
But Queiroz, in my opinion (and this is an opinion piece), would be a good call. He has some form of knowledge of the country and its ways from his previous time here, while the expected appointment of close friend Roger de Sa will further cut down time on getting to know local players.
More so, Queiroz is an excellent tactician (just ask Sir Alex Ferguson), and him qualifying Iran for the 2014 World Cup was no easy task.
Crucially, he is also a coach that embraces technology – something which a high-ranking SAFA official recently told me was one of Igesund’s downfalls, and one of the reasons why it’s unlikely that Shakes Mashaba would get the job.
As for Igesund, I believe he did really well given some of the demands made of him.
He took over a side in the dumps in the midst of a disastrous 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign and restored some national pride and feel-good factor, for a while at least.
I still believe his mandate of qualifying for the World Cup and a semi-final spot at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations was unrealistic, especially given the space we were in at the time.
Of course there was the victory against Spain – which Igesund never missed a chance to remind us of – but the disastrous CHAN campaign earlier this year, coupled with public spats over players (remember the calling up of Orlando Pirates players for a friendly prior to a crucial CAF Champions League clash), saw his star rapidly fade.
So there we are again, a 23rd coaching change in 22 years. Should it be Queiroz or whoever comes in, let’s hope the administrators, media and fans can look further ahead and allow the coach to build a team for the 2018 World Cup and beyond, rather than expect instant results.