Below is what I wrote in a blog in July 2012, just after Gordon Igesund had signed Safa’s very stringent performance-based contract to coach Bafana Bafana.
“Just when you thought Safa had finally gotten it right in appointing South Africa’s most successful coach of all time, they’ve already made a misstep by putting Igesund under unbelievable pressure to deliver.”
“Here’s why… As part of his performance-based contract, Safa expect Bafana to reach the semi-finals of the 2013 Afcon and then qualify for the 2014 World Cup. An almost crazy set of expectations under the circumstances.
"Firstly, Igesund is already behind the black ball in the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign because of the dismal start made under the previous coach.”
Fast forward to September 2013 and it appears my premonition back then about Safa’s unfair expectations on Igesund has come true. By all rights they are entitled to sack the coach because he did not deliver according to the conditions of his contract.
But are we all going mad? Are we losing the plot, not to see how much more of a better place our national team is in today?
If Safa do decide to relieve Igesund of his duties based on his contract stipulations, it’ll be possibly the biggest mistake they’ve ever made in a long catalogue of costly mistakes by our bungling football association over the years!
And, I’ll tell you why.
Igesund has given us a South African playing identity. He’s given us an attacking shape and mentality which fits out players.
For all the frustrating years Safa spent funding a multi-million Rand Brazilian experiment which brought us more disappointments and 0-0 draws than I’d care to remember. Along came coach Igesund and gave us goals, excitement and a reason to believe again.
All in the space of little over a year.
Can you believe we were tied third for the most goals scored in all of African World Cup qualifying? Only Ghana and Ivory Coast did better than us in finding the back of the net.
Then he gave us the influential Dean Furman and May Mahlangu in the middle of the park. Until Gordon came along, no one had given the European-based pair a look-in.
Virtually overnight he took us to the verge of an Afcon semi-final with the group of players he put together. There was a renewed fury and competitiveness, and we played without fear. I watched with pride bursting through my very soul when they took on Morocco with an attitude of attack in that tournament.
At the time the bravery of the performance inspired me to re-write a famous line or two of verse about 100% commitment to the cause, even in the line of heavy fire.
I wrote, “Cannon to the right of them, Cannon to the left of them, Cannon in front of them, Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode Igesund’s Bafana.”
It also led me to write with tear in the eye, in a later report, on the game which ended 2-2, and saw Bafana through to the quarterfinals.
“Look, do you see? This is our Bafana. They’re not afraid anymore.”
And we aren’t scared anymore to play, score goals and believe we can win against anyone. We’ve got a plan that’s working. There’s a cohesion, togetherness and belief about this group of players he’s put together, that I haven’t seen since our golden generation of the 1990s.
That Safa or anyone else with the ability to add one plus one together and come to the correct answer of two, should even for half-a-second consider letting go of Igesund – is a complete mystery to me.
I’m not going to say anymore apart from this. Don’t you dare sack Gordon, Safa! He’s the best we got right now.
Yours in football,
Follow David on Twitter: @DavidLaduma