JOHANNESBURG – Even if SuperSport United had won the Caf Confederation Cup, Dean Furman believes that the club would still have had an indifferent showing after the tournament, like they have since losing the final to TP Mazembe.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori have won just one of the six Premiership games they have been involved in after losing to Mazembe on November 25.
The Tshwane side collected just six points in that run, four points short of the 10 they amassed in their five matches before the final.
“There are a lot of factors that have contributed to us finding ourselves in this position,” Furman said.
“The legs were tired after a long year that saw us travel the length and breadth of the continent. But the main reason is that after the final the hype died down.
“We were carried by the high we were on in the knockout stage of the Cup. It was easy to psyche ourselves when we went to Zambia in the quarter-finals and to Tunisia in the semi-finals where I believe we played our best football this year.
“After the final there was no hype. I believe that we would have struggled even if we had won it because the euphoria that surrounded us representing South Africa at the highest level wasn’t there anymore.”
There will be plenty of hype in the Tshwane side’s match against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday at Mbombela Stadium. Matsatsantsa dashed Chiefs’ league ambitions at the same venue last year by holding them to a 2-2 draw in the final stretch.
SuperSport have already defeated Amakhosi twice this season, first in Durban in the MTN8 and then in Johannesburg in the league, which led to the increase of calls for Steve Komphela’s sacking. Those calls have died down a bit with Amakhosi finishing 2017 on a positive note with their win over Ajax Cape Town taking them to third place.
“What I have seen about us is that we rise to the occasion in the big stage,” Furman said.
“We did that against Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup final to become the first team to retain the trophy (under the current sponsors). We won the MTN8 final with a man down for more than half an hour. We have an incredible fighting spirit that pushed us to reach the final of the Confederation Cup. We will return there this year and I believe that we can go all the way this time around.”
SuperSport have been on an upward trajectory in the past two years. They appeared in five consecutive finals in that time, and the club’s captain Furman lifted three trophies in that period. But they have failed to take that good run in knockout competitions to the league.
Eric Tinkler’s main mandate is to bring the league title to the club’s trophy cabinet for the first time since 2010. They looked like they would do that last season having gone 19 matches unbeaten to match Chiefs’ record.
“We were let down by playing too many draws in that unbeaten run,” Furman said. “That’s what we need to improve on. This season has had a high number of draws which means a five-match winning run would take us to the top. Even though it’s good that we are a hard team to beat, we also need to win most of the matches that we draw. If we can turn most of our draws to wins we stand a good chance of winning the league.”