Who is Gordon Igesund?
Gordon Igesund, who will be named the 20th Bafana Bafana coach on Saturday, was born in the coastal city of Durban, some 56 years ago.
Gordon played as a deadly striker for a number of his home town clubs, amongst them, Durban City, Durban United, Highlands Park, Durban Bush Bucks, Amazulu and African Wanderers. He also had a stint with Dálberton Callies.
Gordon later left South Africa for Austria, where he played for GAK and later Admira Wacker, with relative success.
Upon his retirement as a player coach. Gordon was noticed when he molded unfashionable Durban side, Manning Rangers to a force in the premier league. This team, made mostly of no name players, won the inaugural PSL championship. After winning the league, Rangers represented South Africa in the African Champions League. In this competition, in the 1998/1999 season, Rangers went all the way. They lost to the eventual winners, Asec Abidjan. With the trouble of money now affecting this team, it was now time for Gordon to move on.
He had a stint with a number of clubs. He eventually landed in Soweto, where he took charge at the then sleeping giant, Orlando Pirates. In this 2000/2001 season, Pirates won the league by one point, beating the usual foes, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns to the throne in the last day of fixtures.
That would turn out to be a memorable season for Gordon who also won a domestic cup, BP Top Eight with Pirates. He had to delay the wedding of his daughter by hours as it coincided with the final. When the game finished, with helicopter landing in the stadium to pick him up, he was, for a moment a rock star, instead of a football coach. Despite all the success, Gordon, controversially did not renew his contract with Pirates, citing the need to be closer to his ailing mother back in Durban.
In a couple of months, Gordon resurfaced at Santos. Here again, he had a modest squad. His philosophy of motivating the players would be once again be put to test. Santos were impressive throughout the season. At the end of the season, they were in the summit, five points clear of their nearest rival, Supersport, who came second with 59 points.In this squad he had players like Andries Burton, Andre Arendse, Musa Otieno and Jean Marc Ithier. Being known for managing sides that are built from a solid back formation, the type of players that were at Santos suited Gordon hand in glove.
Gordon then moved around in the PSL with different sides with no major success. In the 2006/2007 season, Gordon joined the Pretoria giants, Mamelodi Sundowns. One glaring observation that was immediately exploited by the critics was that these two parties had two contrasting football styles. Gordon, with his solid back four, relying on one route football, not easy to watch, but producing results, and Sundowns, them of Shoe shine and piano, short crisp passing game, were results are as important as playing attractive football. Gordon changed his principles. This team was a joy to watch. Who will ever forget the 47 passes they put together at Loftus when they were playing against a descent Kaizer Chiefs side? Such was the strength of this team that at the end of the season, Gordon’s side was 10 points clear of their nearest rivals.
A record had being set. Four clubs, two very rich clubs, who can afford any player in their day, and who emphasise on attractive football, and another two, financially struggling clubs, with a direct football playing style. Gordon had proved his critics wrong. He now needed a bigger challenge!
That challenge came when Gordon was shortlisted for the Bafana job in 1998. The position was then given to Trott Moloto due to Gordon’s colour. How crazy. This ironically was one of many gaffes that have characterized themselves at Safa House over the year. It is ironic because Gordon will be the coach on Saturday, this time benefiting from the same nonsensical principle of SAFA overriding itself. The word in the street is that Steve impressed the technical committee with his long term plan of overhauling all national teams versus Gordon’s plan of getting the flagship Banana brand back on track. After this snub, Gordon continued building his profile with smaller teams around the country. Now, it is his time.
With the latest developments at Safa House, Gordon has not only emerged as a favorite for this position. It is no longer of if, but a matter of when he will be announced as the coach of Bafana Bafana. Critics have pointed out to Gordon’s philosophy as a coach. His style of play. To his credit though, he has shown that he can win things with any type of players. When we watch what he has achieved with Moroka Swallows in just over one season, one is tempted to believe that for the first time since Clive Barker, South Africa might break into the world top 20 and keep that position. Gordon is a great motivator. He also likes looking at a bigger picture. For instance word has it that when he plans the league, he breaks it into small chunks and gives his players targets. He breaks the teams into A, B, and C. He then says C teams have to be beaten home and away. B teams have to be beaten at home. A point at least away. The A teams, he trades carefully and tells the players that positive result away will be a huge bonus. However at home it should be a win or draw, although losing will not be a train smash. He shares this info with his team. He also likes consistency. His squads are always between 28 and 30 players, with two players per position. This allows the team to gel. We however hear that he is not good at consulting his technical team, which then reduces them to ball boys. This is hard to believe. Clinton Larsen, one of the outstanding coaches of the just ended season, praises Gordon for helping with his development. He has the respect of his peers. Gordon has been coach of the year several times.
Will he be able to impart that knowledge to the Bafana set up? He is also notorious for not listening to any interferers. So, any person at SAFA House who thinks they will tell Gordon what to do will meet the mothers of all resistances. They have also been allegations over the years that say player agents have tried to influence selections to the national teams for their players. With Gordon, I do not see that possibility.
Gordon is from our league. He likes the game. He knows the terrain. Gordon will communicate with clubs to reduce this country, club issue that crops its ugly head every time national teams play.
Welcome to Gordon and congratulations! Remember to watch your back. This is SAFA House.
By Vusilizwe Peter Mpala
29th of June, 2012
Peter Mpala │ Manager
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