Igesund: Difficult task ahead for Bafana
As many pundits are already writing the footballing obituary of newly appointed Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund, the wily old tactician is supremely confident he will succeed in his new role.
"I am under no illusions of the difficult task that lies ahead, but together I believe we can do this – I wouldn't have taken the job otherwise," Igesund told the Mail & Guardian in a candid interview last week.
When the South African Football Association (Safa) gave Igesund the job two weeks ago, many regarded it as a poisoned chalice.
Mandated to guide the national side to the semifinals of the 2013 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) on home soil and qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, Igesund faces the almost impossible task of transforming a side seemingly devoid of vision or attacking prowess.
Bafana may have won their last friendly international 3-0 against Gabon, but the result came off the back of a woeful string of results that saw no victories in nine games.
But instead, the man who has won four PSL titles with four different teams, dived straight into his job and called for more inclusivity in shaping of a new look national side.
"Everyone needs to be part of the national team. Bafana Bafana is not independent from South African football. We must embrace all clubs in the PSL and also the NFD to incorporate all of the skills we have at our disposal,"
Key to Igesund's proposals is discovering tactics and strategies that complement the skills available to him.
"We need to identify a style of football that suits us, which in my opinion is attacking football with African flair. We can't play to foreign strategies and have players out of position. We need to take the game to our opponents and play with confidence," he said.
Igesund also said the team's current woes are down to a lack of confidence in which the side were "more focused on not losing than trying to win".
"The players need to start believing in themselves and remember the importance of putting on the Bafana jersey. Nobody is guaranteed a place in any national side. You must sweat to be there and they should have goosebumps when they put on their kit and want to play and perform for their country," Igesund said.
However, as self-assured as Igesund portrays himself, he realises it's a job that will not be done alone.
"This isn't something that will be done by Gordon Igesund. We can only do this is as a team, as a nation. People laugh at me but I believe it can happen – I have to. I've only got two years and possibly only six months if we fail next year at Afcon. Right now we need to make this happen and we can," Igesund said.
Igesund's first game in charge of Bafana Bafana is against Brazil in São Paulo on September 27.