Give Stuart Baxter more time with Bafana Bafana‚ says Gordon Igesund

14 November 2017 - 16:21 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter speaking during the South African national men's soccer team press conference at Fusion Boutique on November 06, 2017 in Polokwane, South Africa.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter speaking during the South African national men's soccer team press conference at Fusion Boutique on November 06, 2017 in Polokwane, South Africa.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Gordon Igesund has appealed for calm in the wake of Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup‚ and for coach Stuart Baxter to be given time to implement his ideas.

Igesund‚ who coached Bafana from June 2012 to June 2014‚ said he believes Baxter always faced an uphill battle taking over Bafana’s qualifying campaign two games in.

Baxter replaced Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba – fired for disciplinary reasons – after Bafana had drawn away against Burkina Faso and beaten Senegal at home.

The latter result was later annulled because it was found to have been manipulated by Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey.

Baxter – having started his tenure with a promising away Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win against Nigeria – lost twice against Cape Verde in the defeats that crippled his Russia 2018 campaign.

A home win against Burkina Faso‚ then Friday night’s 2-0 home defeat against Senegal in Polokwane later‚ and Bafana are out of another World Cup.

“The big setback for us in the campaign was Cape Verde.

"I think the biggest problem was we played against Nigeria and played really well‚ played them off the park‚ and we won that game‚” Igesund said.

“And then ahead of Cape Verde what you heard was that we were going there for a win and we were on a roll and everything was great. And we underestimated them.

“Maybe we should have gone there saying‚ ‘We don’t know too much about this side‚ they’ve got a lot of players in Europe‚ and let’s go there‚ keep it tight and get a point.

"Then when we play them at home try to beat them when we know more about them’.”

Igesund drew comparisons to when Bafana had failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in his tenure‚ where he was brought in after Pitso Mosimane had been dismissed after draws against Ethiopia and Botswana.

“In my opinion Shakes Mashaba was doing a good job‚ and then for whatever reason he was dismissed‚ and then someone again came in halfway through‚” Igesund said.

“It takes players time to change from my philosophy to Shakes’‚ and to Stuart’s.

“There’s no continuity. And in my humble opinion‚ give the job to Stuart until 2022.

“Let him have the start of the World Cup qualification‚ start off preparing his team‚ let the players get used to him over the next year‚ and the year after.

"Then by the time the fourth year comes the players are very familiar with you and they know what you want.

“Stuart is a nice guy‚ and in my opinion he’s a good coach. He was employed for a reason – and that’s that they liked what he was doing for his clubs at Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United.

“But he needs to be given time to bring that through to the national team.

“There are other things too because I am sure Stuart planned without Andile Jali. Because he was told Jali was suspended‚ when in actual fact he was not.

“And now it’s very difficult to put Jali in the team because you haven’t planned with him.

“The you get a player [Thulani Serero] saying‚ ‘I don’t want to come unless I’m guaranteed a starting position’.

“But I don’t think there’s a player attitude problem. I just think it’s the togetherness of all of us. All South Africans.

“I think there are so many different agendas out there. This one talking badly about this one.

“The clubs‚ coaches‚ players‚ administrators and the country must come together and pull towards one thing – and that is Bafana getting somewhere.

“I think that is the problem. We all have our own agendas and there’s no real unity.”