Gordon stay's put and Mbalula takes a swipe at stadium management!

It would 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.

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.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has slammed stadium managers for prioritising music concerts over big football matches.

He singled out the National Stadium, which hosted the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert on Saturday, as an example of “reckless management” of venues.

“Concerts can take place on condition that the pitch and the stadium are protected.

“I don’t understand how government can spend so much money building these stadiums, and after a tournament, we’re told that we’ve got nothing to do with these stadiums,” said Mbalula.

Complaints about the rough, sandy pitch at the Mbombela Stadium in Mbombela, where Africa Cup of Nations Group C matches were played, appear to have sparked Mbalula’s concerns.

Mbalula said that although stadiums generated income from concerts, “stadium management at times doesn’t care, and in particular the National Stadium, who arrogantly said they can’t do without concerts”.

He had earlier explained that the problems at Mbombela Stadium had been caused by something that had attacked the grass on the pitch.

Mbombela Stadium management were quoted in a football magazine as saying recent bad weather had led to an algae outbreak on the pitch. The management told the magazine that loose sand had to be used in a bid to kill the algae.

This is not the first time a bad pitch has been at the centre of controversy before a big football match.

During last week’s media brief, Sowetolife Magazine Online, did pose the question on the state of affairs on pitches and both SAFA President Kirsten Nematandani and Minister promised to look into that matter.

Last year, National Stadium management were under pressure to get the pitch ready for a major football match after it was damaged during rock band Linkin Park’s concert.

The Afcon local organising committee (LOC) has indicated it was told it was too late to raise concerns with National Stadium management last year because by then the Red Hot Chili Peppers rock concert had already been booked.

LOC chairman Mvuzo Mbebe said last year that a mixture of natural grass and artificial fibres would be planted in a bid to ensure the pitch was not affected by the concert.

The LOC had not responded to questions at the time of going to press.

Mbalula has urged South Africans to continue supporting Afcon and to attend the remaining matches even though Bafana Bafana have been eliminated after losing to Mali at the weekend.

Jacques Grobbelaar, CE at Stadium Management of SA was not available for comment at the time of posting.


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