MOROKA Swallows coach Gordon Igesund looks set to become the next national soccer team coach after he outscored rival Steve Komphela during a gruelling interview process for the plum Bafana Bafana position.
While the South African Football Association (Safa) said yesterday that Igesund and Komphela were identified as the best candidates during the questionnaire assessment segment of the interview, a senior national executive committee (NEC) member told Business Day that Igesund was now the strong favourite to get the job.
"They faced a tough interview grilling process and they had to answer a set of questions after their presentations to the panel," the NEC member said.
"Everything was done above board and the public will get their man, Gordon Igesund.
"This was one of the most transparent processes ever and the best man (Igesund) will get the job."
Igesund and Komphela are expected to make another round of presentations to the Safa executive committee on June 30 but it seems the Swallows boss will succeed sacked Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane. This mean SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt, SA Under-23 mentor Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba and former Bafana captain Neil Tovey are out of the race.
Komphela endeared himself to the Safa bosses and the public when Bafana beat Gabon 3-0 in a friendly match in Nelspruit at the weekend.
Bafana had not won a match since beating Burkina Faso by the same margin at Ellis Park Stadium in August last year.
That winless streak cost Mosimane his R800000-a-month job. He was fired after Bafana drew 1-1 with 138th-ranked Ethiopia in an opening 2014 Soccer World Cup qualifier earlier this month.
The Safa bosses were pleased with the result against Gabon as it helped ease the pressure off a Bafana squad that has also plummeted down the official Fifa rankings to 68th place. Komphela introduced several new faces and answered the furious calls to get rid of the many senior players who became complacent under Mosimane.
Many respected figures such as former Bafana coach Clive Barker, erstwhile captain Lucas Radebe and former team manager Zola Dunywa, among others, had pleaded for the sacking of most of the players in the squad. Komphela may have erred by not heeding their calls sooner. He kept faith with most of Mosimane's players in the away Soccer World Cup qualifier against Botswana last week. Bafana drew that game 1-1 and Komphela was criticised for not making changes immediately.
The Safa bosses will have noted this shortcoming as that was the result that mattered and could have swayed things his way.
But Komphela is still likely to be retained within the Bafana structures and is expected to serve as assistant to Igesund.
n The organisers of the Vodacom Challenge remained cagey about whether the annual event will take place this year even as mounting speculation continued to suggest yesterday that this year's tournament is doomed.
Tournament director Jabu Mathibela said while he seen had various reports over the past few days claiming that the event - which features the Vodacom-sponsored Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates against English clubs - was cancelled after negotiations broke down between the organisers and Newcastle United, they were all nothing more than speculation. "In fact, we are having a meeting with Vodacom (today) about the tournament and we will release an official statement in that regard," he said.
"I am not saying the event will be cancelled or it will not be cancelled. We never officially came out and said Newcastle United was coming here to play in the tournament and I do not know how people can then arrive at the assumption that the English club is no longer coming."