Igesund Given South Africa Backing

Gordon Igesund has been given the backing of the South Africa Football Association to continue as coach of the national football team, despite a disappointing run of results during his 18 months in the job.

There had been a number of reports on soccer betting websites suggesting Igesund would be sacked following a poor performance at the recent African Nations Championship.

South Africa hosted the tournament for home-based players but failed to reach the second round, leading the country’s sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, to label the team “a bunch of losers”.

After failing to qualify for this summer’s World Cup, the Bafana Bafana fans are only able to look forward to the upcoming friendly against this summer’s hosts, Brazil, in Johannesburg in March while a number of rival African nations look forward to this summer’s tournament.

A joint meeting of the Safa Technical and International Affairs Committees on Thursday ended with Igesund being told he will remain in the job for the duration of his current contract, which runs until the end of June. However, it looks unlikely that the 57-year old will be kept on after that unless he can turn things around dramatically between now and the summer.

“The meeting decided that the Association does not want to act in an impromptu manner but rather, must plan systematically for immediate and future programs of the Men’s Senior National Team and all of the other national teams, men and women.”

“In this regard, the meeting decided that the Head Coach must continue with his work and in particular, get the Men’s Senior National Team ready for the match between Bafana Bafana and Brazil scheduled for 05 March 2014,” confirmed a statement printed on several football betting websites.

News emerging last week that the South African Football Association is considering dropping the Bafana Bafana nickname has come as a huge shock for supporters that attach real significance to the name.

Closely translated from a Zulu expression that means ‘The Lads’, Bafana Bafana has come to encapsulate the togetherness and spirit of South Africa’s national team that united when the nation did in 1992 and proved its worth on the global stage in 2010.

The name earned notoriety and fame across the globe during that festive month four years ago but failure to register the trademark when the team began in the early 90s means the SAFA lose out on a major revenue stream.

“We must consider changing the name and we have to review the preparations, the philosophy and technical staff of the team,” said Danny Jordaan, SAFA president, following the team’s early exit from the African Nations Championship.

Now, far be it from anyone to tell the SAFA how to run its course – it staged a successful World Cup after all – but the dropping of the Bafana Bafana name for a revenue-generating brand seems a little shallow.

It is disappointing one of the iconic names of world football – up there with the Samba Boys and the Azzurri – is coming to an end. Many people closely follow live football commentary of South Africa’s domestic game and this attachment to the country’s sporting efforts is felt around the world.

In fact, changing the nickname of the national side may do more harm than good. Gordon Igesund’s men aren’t exactly the apple of the public’s eye right now and, with the team having failed to qualify for World Cup 2014, many fans in the football betting world have voiced their concern and displeasure with the side.

Changing the nickname could spur further animosity and lead to wide numbers of fans boycotting the team – much like the supporters of Premier League side Hull City, who face a name change to Hull Tigers.

The SAFA must therefore consider what is best for the team. A feeling of continued togetherness through tough times, encapsulated in Bafana Bafana, or a new direction that has equal potential of success and failure.

Kaizer Chiefs Stand Firm Over CHAN

Kaizer Chiefs have stated that they will not release any of their stars to take part in the 2014 African Nations Championship for South Africa next month.

Six players have been named in Gordon Igesund’s squad from the Premier Soccer League club. The Bafana Bafana coach was hoping to include Khune, Tefo Mashamaite, Tsepo Masilela, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker into his choice of 23.

The African Nations Championship begins on January 11 and runs through to February 1. South Africa are in the same group as Nigeria, Mali, and Mozambique.

South Africa, who last won a major competition in the 1996 African Cup of Nations, will host the third edition of the competition. After failing to qualify for the ACON in 2010 and 2012, they reached the quarterfinals last year before losing to Mali on penalties.

The first ever CHAN was held in 2009 when won by Congo DR in the Ivory Cost. Then in 2011, Tunisia defied the soccer betting odds to claim the title in Sudan.

The South African club are not obliged to release their players for the international tournament as, unlike the African Cup of Nations, it is not sanctioned by the world governing body, FIFA.

Kaizer Chiefs are scheduled to play Mamelodi Sundowns on January 23 and do not want to lose their players for the PSL clash.

The Chiefs currently lead the PSL standings with 30 points. They have won nine of their 14 league games so far. Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits head the chase in behind the leaders on 25 points.

Following the trip to take on the Sundowns, the Chiefs host SuperSport United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, in what is sure to be an interesting encounter for fans who bet on soccer games.

Sundowns Held By Super Sport

Mamelodi Sundowns remain top of the Premier Soccer League despite dropping two points away to Super Sports United in the Tshwane derby, which finished 1-1.

The hosts were down to ten men for the last eight minutes of the game but the league leaders were unable to take advantage.

Super Sport took a surprise lead in the game just after 20 minutes when Sibusiso Khumalo found the back of the net from 35-yards.

Fans of live football commentary will recall that Kurt Lentjies had a great chance to double the home side’s lead not long after when the ball fell to him in the box. His shot was well saved by Kennedy Mweene though, in the Sundowns goal.

Just before the interval, the league leaders were starting to dominate possession and had some good chances to level the scores. Khama Billiat went closest but his effort went past the wrong side of the post.

The visitors did get their reward for their pressure after the break. It came through Katlego Mashego who fired home a free kick from 22-yards.

Both teams had chances to seal all three points in the last half hour of the game. Sameehg Doutie should have done so for Super Sport when he was unmarked in the box. However, he leaned back on his shot, forcing it to go over the target.

United had to see out the game with just 10 men when Doutie’s night got even worse. He picked up his second yellow of the tie in the 82nd minute. It did not prove to be costly for Super Sport as they were able to hold on for a point.

The Sundowns are in action next on Friday when they entertain Maritzburg United at the Loftus Stadium, a game for which they will be favourites for the win in the soccer betting, while Super Sport take on Polokwane City on the road a day later.

Modest Khune wins Annual Accolade

Itumeleng Khune has been rewarded for a brilliant year by being presented with the Sports Star of the Year award at the South African Sports Awards at Sun City.

The 26-year-old Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper came out on top despite strong competition from double world champion swimmer, Chad le Clos, US Open wheelchair tennis champion, Lucas Sithole, cricketer, Hashim Amla, and athlete, Mapaseka Makhanya.

Khune, who received over 2.7 million votes from the public, said after winning the award: “Hard work pays, but I never would have won this award if it wasn’t for the help of my team-mates, coaches and, most importantly, Bafana Bafana’s fans, who have supported me every step of the way.”

Khune is set to play for the Bafana Bafana in their friendly international against reigning World and European champions, Spain, a match that should prove a highlight of the month’s sport for fans of live football commentary.

South Africa will not be playing at next year’s World Cup finals in Brazil after finishing second in a qualifying group behind Ethiopia, but the Spain friendly will be a good opportunity to bet on football.

In the 2012-13 season, Khune, who has spent his whole career with Kaizer Chiefs, helped the club secure an impressive league and cup double.

When he first arrived at the club in 1999, he was a defender, but he was soon converted to a goalkeeper and has gone on to enjoy a very successful career.

Meanwhile, the Sportsman of the Year award went to Olympic champion, Cameron van der Burgh, who won the 50 metres breaststroke at the World Championships in Barcelona.

The South African cricket side secured the Team of the Year accolade after thrashing New Zealand and Pakistan on home soil and drawing with Pakistan in the UAE.

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