SA FOOTBALL Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani yesterday gave embattled Gordon Igesund a boost by hinting that the Bafana Bafana coach's job could be safe regardless of whether South Africa reach the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Bafana opened the Afcon with an unconvincing 0-0 draw against Cape Verde in front of a 90000 crowd at Soccer City in Soweto on Saturday. The South Africans are under pressure to improve on that result in potentially tougher matches against Angola on Wednesday and Morocco on Sunday.
When he was appointed in June, Igesund was given the mandate of reaching the Afcon semis and qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. However, yesterday Nematandani said the two were separate targets and if Bafana fail to reach the Afcon semis, the coach could still have his second mandate – the World Cup.
"I get asked the question: 'Is it realistic that the coach has a target to reach the semifinals'," Nematandani said. "But what is the problem with a target?
"The coach has two targets. One, take the team to the semifinal. The other target is qualify for the World Cup."
However Nematandani also produced plenty of thinly-masked references that suggested Safa at least expect Bafana to reach the knockout stages.
"Certainly it's a challenge for us in a sense that when we go out there in a sold-out stadium it requires that, coach, you and your troops, you've got to deliver," he said.
Igesund said he believed SA could reach the knockout stages.
"... I think if we can get the momentum going, the confidence in ourselves and of the country behind us, we can do anything.
"It's not always the best team that wins. Sometimes it's a team that's together, or really wants to do it. I can tell this team wants to do it."