Dumitru on SAFA, Gordon & SA football


KO: Ted, SAFA has decided not to renew Gordon Igesund’s contract as Bafana Bafana coach. What’s your take on that?

Dumitru: First and foremost, what most people need to understand is that all the national team coaches all over the world - be it Pitso Mosimane, Ted Dumitru or Gordon Igesund - have negative aspects. That can be team selection, planning – it can be anything – all national coaches have negative aspects and Gordon is no different. But the key is that when you take away those negative aspects, you must still have signs of progress in your team. In Bafana Bafana’s case, even if you take Gordon Igesund away and replace him, there are no signs of progress - the problems are still there. There are no quality players, that is the biggest problem.

How do you go about solving that problem? 

There is no secret formula for success or how to win the World Cup. The game of football is so complex these days and you need people with expertise in your technical department to succeed. If you analyse the success of the 1996 Bafana Bafana team you will see we had people like Clive Barker, Jomo Sono, myself, Peter Nyama and Mich D’Avray, to mention a few, advising Safa and the national team. Every single person in the technical department had technical expertise and the Under-23 team that qualified for the 2000 Olympics also benefited from that structure. 

But you said the biggest problem is that we are not producing quality players. In the 1980s we had no academies and yet produced quality players. Now there’s an academy on every street corner but the players are not coming up. What’s the problem? 

It’s not as if we don’t have quality players at all; there are, but their true potential is not realised. In the 1970s and 1980s players were lucky because there was no wrong influence from outside; players played football the way they knew how to play it. Now you get a lot of wrong influence, players are told to play one-touch football; they are playing 11 v/s 11 from a young age and some are told that they cannot pass the ball with an outside foot because that will confuse their teammates. There is so much wrong influence. The solution to this is that SAFA must re-enforce their technical department; people who will give the country a direction on how football should be played. 

Who should replace Gordon Igesund as the coach? 

It will be a real disaster if we can bring a European coach. It’s about time we develop a national identity. We need to divorce the idea that if we are coached by a European coach then things will be great. That will be a disaster decision. SAFA must go for a local coach. 

Would you favour Shakes Mashaba’s appointment? 

Yes, I would go for Shakes. But it’s very imperative that we have a completely revamped technical committee. In 1996 everything was at the highest level at the end the coach and the national benefited.