Khartoum, Sudan – Bafana Bafana midfielder Dean Furman says getting over the sweltering conditions in Sudan will be half the job done before their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier kicks-off in Khartoum on Friday evening.
“The conditions are going to be difficult, we know that, but once we can get our heads around the fact that it might not be what we’re used to back home, it’s important for us just to focus on the game,” Furman said at the team’s hotel in Khartoum, with the temperature already in excess of 35 degrees Celsius at midday on Thursday.
“It’s good to be here, it’s good to get over the journey, which was a long one on Wednesday but we’re looking forward to our first training session tonight and that’s where we can see what the conditions are going to be like.”
Greeted by soaring temperatures late on Wednesday afternoon, Bafana had been unable to take part in training and would have their one and only session on Thursday evening at 8pm (7pm SA time), the same time as Friday’s group A opener at Al-Merrikh Stadium.
Furman was part of Bafana’s last trip into the continent, a 2014 World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in June last year, which South Africa lost 2-1.
His first experience playing against an African opponent, outside of South Africa’s borders, Furman admitted travelling into Africa always remained a challenge for South African players.
“It’s difficult to go away. In South Africa we’re blessed with wonderful stadiums, wonderful pitches and everyone is comfortable.
“When we come away, we have to look past that and we just have to accept that this is where we are and we’ve got a task and a challenge and we have to rise to it.”
Friday’s meeting would be the first ever between the two nations and although the Falcons of Jediane had Afcon credentials, Furman, much like the rest of the team and staff, were in the dark about what to expect from the world’s 115-ranked team.
“The rest of (the day) and tonight and probably tomorrow we’ll learn a little bit more about them, and in training we’ll work on what we want to do against them to stop them.”
Furman, who said he has adopted a slightly more attacking role over the last 12 months at his English club Doncaster Rovers, was expected to prop up a young central midfield and could be paired alongside Andile Jali or Oupa Manyisa.
With a host of youngsters included in the travelling party of 24, Furman believed South Africa were on the right track and he was expecting big performances from the juniors.
“Whenever the young boys have come in, whether they’ve had an opportunity or not, they’ve always done well in training and it’s great that the squad is made up of a lot of young players. It’s promising for the future of Bafana.”
South Africa coach Shakes Mashaba would have a provisional starting XI in mind and would probably try out the last of his combinations on Thursday evening, before addressing the media. He was expected to name Anele Ngcongca as skipper for Friday’s fixture, in the absence of regular number one, Itumeleng Khune. – Sapa