The most experienced member of the Bafana Bafana squad in Egypt preparing to start their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) journey against Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium tomorrow (4.30pm SA time kick-off) is tired of the team playing good football but with nothing to show for it.
Dean Furman, who will be taking part in his third Afcon and has over 50 caps for his country, has seen Bafana play enterprising football against some of the best nations in the continent, but struggle to translate that good display into victories.
He wants that to end in Egypt with an exciting squad that has what it takes to get out of a tricky Group D and reach the knockout stage for the first time since 2013.
Furman was there in South Africa when the Gordon Igesund-led team crashed out of the quarter-finals against a Mali side they out-thought, outplayed and out-ran but didn’t out-score. The Malians came from behind to level matters before winning on penalties.
“We don’t want the plaudits of playing nice football, we’ve had enough of that,” Furman said.
“I look back at Equatorial Guinea (in the 2015 Afcon) and remember how we played Algeria off the park for 75 minutes, but we came away with nothing.
“We don’t necessarily just want plaudits for being this nice team, that plays good football - that’s not enough. We want success. Success means results.
“We have to find the balance between playing our fantastic brand of football that we know we can play and getting results. That’s what is important now.
“We’re at a tournament where there is a great opportunity to progress to the latter stages. And that’s our first target; we want to get out of the group. We don’t want to talk further about more targets. We just want to get out of the group.
“We have to find that balance between being a good team and actually playing nice football and being successful, winning games and progressing.”
The difference between this side and most Bafana teams of old is that they have two powerful centre forwards who don’t care about looking pretty - they just want to put the ball in the back of the net.
Lebo Mothiba and Lars Veldwijk are a pair of burly attackers who have an eye for goal. Their strength and aerial prowess will come in handy against the towering Ivorians who will look to bully Bafana off the park.
Furman raves about the duo.
“We look at our forward players and they are so exciting,” the former Bafana captain said.
“There is so much speed. There is so much imagination and we have a couple of lethal finishers to add to that, which is something that we might have missed. We haven’t had those finishers, who all they want to do is score goals.
“When I look at our two out-and-out strikers in the teams, Lebo and Lars, the guys just want to score goals. They want to be on the end of a cross.
“They just want to get there, get their heads or whatever part of their body at the end of a cross to make sure that they put the ball in the back of the net.”
Their finishing makes Bafana a complete team, with some exciting creative players and a solid defence that only conceded a penalty and an own goal during the qualifiers.
“The kind of attackers we have complement our creators, our Lebo Maboe, (Sibuso) Vilakazi, Mshishi (Themba Zwane) and Percy (Tau). To have those kind of finishers really bodes well for us.
“Putting the ball in the back of the net is so important; all the pretty play leading up to the edge of the box and not having the final product is meaningless.
“That’s key to our progression because we have played too many games where we have played so well but haven't scored, yet the other team goes at the other end and steals a goal.
“We have to make sure that our dominance throughout the game leads to goals.”