Santos a dif­fi­cult de­but for Ige­sund

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SANTOS are pre­par­ing for a tricky PSL fix­ture against bot­tom-of-the-log Moroka Swal­lows at Athlone Sta­dium tonight (kick-off 8.15pm, live on SABC1).

It’s not just the fact that Santos have strug­gled with their at­tack­ing game all sea­son, it’s not so much that Swal­lows are des­per­ate for points, but rather the fact that the man on the op­po­si­tion bench knows the Cape club so well.

Gor­don Ige­sund, who was very suc­cess­ful dur­ing his time at Santos, is the new man at the helm of Swal­lows.

On a six-month con­tract at the Jo­han­nes­burg club, Ige­sund has been tasked with steer­ing the Birds to calmer wa­ters, away from the dreaded rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Tonight’s match against Santos will be his first in charge of his new team.

Ige­sund won the PSL ti­tle with Santos, back in the 2001-2002 sea­son, and was re­spon­si­ble for much of what is still good about the Cape team – like sound de­fen­sive or­gan­i­sa­tion and supreme team dis­ci­pline.

These are the same traits he is now try­ing to in­still at Swal­lows.

“Nat­u­rally the con­fi­dence is low at the club, but that will all change with a cou­ple of good re­sults,” said Ige­sund.

Swal­lows, the old­est pro­fes­sional soc­cer club in South Africa, who were formed in 1947, find them­selves at the foot of the PSL with­out a win af­ter nine matches. They have only two points and are in se­ri­ous dan­ger of rel­e­ga­tion.

Ige­sund re­placed Ger­man­born Rainer Zo­bel last week in a bid to stop Swal­lows’ slide.

Af­ter a week with his new team, Ige­sund faces his tough­est chal­lenge in an il­lus­tri­ous coach­ing ca­reer dur­ing which he has won four league ti­tles with four dif­fer­ent clubs.

“The word panic does not ex­ist in my dic­tio­nary. I am op­ti­mistic and re­laxed,” said Ige­sund. “There is no need to be wor­ried. Sure, the sit­u­a­tion looks bad at present, but we have three matches be­fore the end of the year and I reckon we can be­gin tur ning things around be­fore the end of 2010.”

Ige­sund has spo­ken to all his play­ers and has been promised their full com­mit­ment.

“I will as­sess ev­ery player and give each a chance. The spirit has been lifted as well as the en­thu­si­asm and I am con­fi­dent we can suc­ceed in lift­ing Swal­lows out of dan­ger,” he said.

“The re­sponse from the play­ers has been fan­tas­tic and that au­gurs well for the club’s fu­ture.”

But he knows that his for­mer team, Santos, rep­re­sent a tough hur­dle in­deed.

“Santos are a dif­fi­cult side to play, es­pe­cially at home,” he said. “They de­fend in num­bers and counter-at­tack well. We are go­ing to need a bit of luck, but I hope to get off with a pos­i­tive start.”

Ige­sund said will change the sys­tem the team pre­vi­ously em­ployed.

“What I have ob­served is the play­ers seem to have been over trained,” he said. “I have in­tro­duced a new sys­tem as Swal­lows have been too neg­a­tive in the past. We will be more at­tack­ing be­cause we have the play­ers to do it... start­ing with Santos, de­spite the fact we are play­ing away.”

Ige­sund added too many play­ers – in­clud­ing club cap­tain Lefa Tsut­sulupa – were played out of po­si­tion this sea­son. “Lefa is a bril­liant player and cap­tain, and he is go­ing to be the spine of my mid­field, de­spite hav­ing been used as a left wing re­cently,” the coach said. “I will use him where he is best suited, as my mid­field gen­eral.

“When I chat­ted to the play­ers, some told me they were not happy play­ing in cer­tain po­si­tions, and I have been lis­ten­ing and will change things as play­ers need to be happy.”

Ige­sund has only one in­jury worry where left-back Kee­gan Richie is out for the rest of the month with torn an­kle lig­a­ments.

The other Cape club, Ajax Cape Town, will be in Wit­bank to­mor­row for a PSL match against MP Black Aces (kick­off 3.30pm, live on SABC1).

Ajax’s last match was a com­fort­able 3-1 win over Bid­vest Wits at New­lands – and they are look­ing to build on that mo­men­tum. – Sports Staff and Sapa

GALLO IM­AGES

FLY­ING INTO PO­SI­TION: Coach Gor­don Ige­sund plans to make Swal­lows cap­tain Lefa Tsut­sulupa the spine of the side.

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