Gordon Igesund’s reign as Bafana Bafana coach ended in a rather unceremonious way, having been told that his contract will not be extended. Now this was obviously due to results that did not go his way during the two years he spent with the national team. I have my opinions on his tenure, but that is a topic for another day.
Within days of his contract with SAFA ending, he found a new home in the form of SuperSport Unted. At the time, the chips were down at the Pretoria club. Wins were few and far between. Although they did not admit to it, they were in a crisis mode. Why else would you fire a coach at the beginning of the season? Panic buttons were already being pressed. Well if there’s any man who knows how to handle crises at club level, it’s Gordon Igesund.
Before GI took up the post as Bafana head coach, he was at Moroka Swallows. He had just finished the season as runner-up to Orlando Pirates in the league, taking it to the wire and lost it only on the last day. But that’s not where he had found that team, in fact far from it. When Leon Prins ran to Igesund the season before, Swallows were in a similar kind of situation that SuperSport found themselves at the beginning of this season. It was even later when he found the ‘Dube Birds’, mid-season, bottom of the log, and staring relegation squarely in the face. He took that team one game at a time and survived the chop. Amazingly, the very next season they were challenging for the league title.
Since Igesund took over at Matsatsantsa, he has tasted defeat only once in eight games. He has taken them out of the relegation zone in that period, and I think it’s safe to say after 10 games in the league, sitting at position number seven is not something to be concerned about. He has brought this sense of belief back to the players at the club. Everyone, including the coach just looks like a happy bunch at the moment.
This past Saturday, SuperSport went through to the final of the Telkom Knockout. A lot of people would have expected Orlando Pirates to beat them in their semi-final played at the Orlando Stadium, but the three-time league champions looked to have a better game plan, executed to pure perfection. They might have even scored more goals than the two they were credited for. One which was incorrectly ruled off-side, and Lebogang Manyama’s point blank range shot that was brilliantly saved by Brighton Mhlongo. After that game in Soweto, the coach said, “I’m very happy at SuperSport, and I’m happy to be back in club football”.
We always knew that Gordon is a very good coach, a good tactician who knows how to win things. Proof positive is the four league titles he has under his belt. Mind you this is with four different clubs. His CV just speaks volumes. When he took on the job, he said “Let’s get into the top eight by Christmas, then we’ll see if we can become title contenders”. That ambition is not far-fetched at all.
When you look at positions two to seven on the log, where SuperSport are, you’ll realise that only two points separate them, meaning just one win could elevate them to number two, provided other results also go their way. With a few games left still until the Christmas break, they may yet surprise many.
A specal mention also has to go to another coach who hasn’t had it easy this season, Allan Freese, for taking his team to the final to meet Matsatsantsa, killing two giants along the way in the shape of Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, whose number he seems to have this season. If he wins it, it will be his third trophy for the Phokeng-based club in just two seasons.
Not bad for a coach who’s head has been called for by sections of the media . These two teams will no doubt give us some good attacking football in the final, and we wish them the best.