Newly appointed Moroka Swallows coach Gordon Igesund is under no illusions as to the task ahead in lifting the demoralised Birds off the foot of the Absa Premiership table and saving the famous Soweto club from relegation.
Birds CEO Leon Prins on Monday appointed Igesund to replace Rainer Zobel as head coach. Zobel was axed after the Birds’ 1-1 draw against SuperSport United at the weekend.
Igesund joins Swallows on a six-month contract: “My job is to get Swallows out of relegation. But depending on if I like Swallows and they like me I could extend my stay. But I am not worried about the future, only the present, and that is to get Swallows back winning games.”
Zobel failed to win a match in the league this season and managed only two draws in a nine-match winless streak.
Igesund (54) said after his appointment on Monday: “We have already lost 25 points. So it is like starting with a minus-25 point handicap. But I am confident in the potential of the players and my ability to lift Swallows. They are a famous sleeping giant of South African soccer and I want to wake them up.
“But first my priority is to get off the bottom of the table and start winning games. It is a massive challenge but I love this type of challenge and I am up for it.”
Igesund has the right pedigree. He won championship titles with Manning Rangers, Santos, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns. He is the only South Africa-born coach to have won four league titles with as many clubs. But more importantly, from Swallows’ and Prins’s point of view, Igesund has saved clubs in similar situations.
Igesund said he goes to Swallows with his eyes wide open.
He showed that he is not just a league winner when he took charge of then newly promoted Maritzburg United three weeks before the kick-off of the 2008/09 season and created a minor miracle in keeping the club in the Absa Premiership and avoiding relegation. He inherited a Maritzburg side that had had little pre-season training and that had made no major signings.
Igesund said: “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and do it for Swallows.”
Igesund also helped Free State Stars steer clear of trouble when he coached them on a short-term contract last season.
Prins said: “We believe Igesund is the right man for the job. We had plenty of applications but he was the only coach we spoke to and are delighted he joined us and will get us out of trouble.”
Igesund will not be making sweeping changes of major signings: “I first want to assess and give every player a chance to impress and show me he deserves to play for Swallows. What I will do is change tactics and discipline. I am looking forward to this new challenge.” — Sapa