JOHANNESBURG - SuperSport United’s belief that they can go all the way in the Caf Confederation Cup was affirmed by their credible 2-2 draw with defending champions TP Mazembe in the group stages of the competition three months ago, captain Dean Furman has said.
“People know that we relish the big challenges,” quipped the skipper ahead of their first leg semi-final clash at home against Tunisia’s Club Africain on Sunday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
“We arrived there (in Lubumbashi) to face a top club in the continent and came from two goals down to get a point.
“I think that was the turning point for us. That is when we believed that we could go all the way. For us now it isn’t only about the 180 minutes over the two legs against Club Africain, another top side in Africa, but making sure it doesn’t end here.”
SuperSport had shown great fight to bulldoze Mazembe in front of their hostile home crowd, and Furman and his teammates were cheered off the pitch at full-time.
“We knew then we were good enough,” the captain added.
And they haven’t dropped the ball since - even when it looked like they had blown their chance of reaching the last four of the Confederation Cup when they were trailing ZESCO United in Zambia last weekend, Thuso Phala popped up with virtually the last kick of the ball to hammer home a crucial away goal to book a date with Club Africain.
Furman said the arduous trips during the preliminary and group stages of the tournament have also played a role in turning SuperSport into such an efficient outfit.
“I believe it is true that we have some sort of telepathy now,” he said. “The average footballer comes to training and then goes home, but we have had to spend time with each other both on and off the pitch.
“We got to know each other socially as well and this has created a bond. You can see that we fight for each other.
"There was an incident against Horoya (in Conakry, Guinea), and I don’t think we would be here today if we didn’t stand for each other the way we did.
“What this tournament has done for us as a team is quite remarkable.”
It is for this reason that Furman argued he and his teammates are motivated to reach the final of the cup in November.
“This has been a year’s worth of work, as long as a season almost, to get to where we are. We certainly don’t want it to end here,” said Furman.
"It is a plus also to have coach Eric Tinkler with his experience both as an ex player and someone who reached the final of this competition as a coach with Orlando Pirates.
“He has stressed the importance of winning our home games because once you are away it is quite unpredictable. We also know that Club Africain has an incredible amount of support at home.
"But for us as players, we have to made sure we take whatever is thrown at us and we implement the coach’s tactics. He has been spot on in every analysis of the opponent.”