Extended stay for Igesund

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund
      Photo: Gallo Images
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund Photo: Gallo Images

GORDON Igesund will stay on at Bafana Bafana despite falling short of his objective.

When he was appointed on a two-year contract as national football coach in June, Igesund was told Bafana Bafana must at least reach the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations finals.

On Saturday night they fell agonisingly short, losing on penalties against Mali in the quarterfinals. But he has found people forgiving. One of them is South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani.

"They were the better side (on Saturday night), so to me they have gone into the semifinals but not a recognised semifinal," said Nematandani.

He said Safa was not necessarily letting Igesund off the hook.

"His contract is subject to what is happening around us. We want to be more patient with coaches in future, but at the same time a coach must give you results," he said.

"We gave him a mandate (to reach the semifinals) of the Afcon because we always want to aim high. It was a very clear goal and we saw they were almost there, but not quite."

Nematandani hinted that Igesund could also be given a new target: qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Russia.

The football boss said there was "nothing wrong with shifting the goal posts" as long as the coach built on the foundations laid at this Afcon finals.

Nematandani said Igesund, who is a four-time Premier League winner, was "the best in the country".

"You don't want to dismantle something that shows so much potential," said Nematandani. "A coach's period should always be long term, and ideally when you stretch (the mandate) to two World Cups, then you are probably giving him a better chance of success."

Nematandani said he believed in continuity. "In eight years a coach might have more of an impact on a national team. Actually, experts will tell you that a target that is as far ahead as 2022 should be set and we are already nine years from that World Cup," Nematandani said.

Igesund's upcoming challenge is to guide Bafana to next year's World Cup in Brazil. South Africa have two points from two matches after successive draws against Ethiopia and Botswana. Bafana are third in their group.

Central African Republic complete South Africa's group and are Bafana's next opponents on March 22 and again on June 7. A return leg against Ethiopia is set for June 14.

Bafana host Botswana in September.