Dean Furman . Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Dean Furman had extra motivation to help SuperSport United avoid finishing 15th in the Absa Premiership last season. “The date of the play-offs clashed with my wedding day,” Furman said. “It was a tough and stressful time because of what was going on with the team.

“But luckily for me my wife, Natasha, was very supportive throughout everything. She was understanding and we played it by ear. We didn’t postpone the wedding. We just hoped for the best and luckily the boys pulled through and we avoided the play-offs.”

That meant the Matsatsantsa a Pitori captain could tie the knot on May 27 with no interruptions or worrying about the status of the Tshwane side. Furman’s wedding offered him a reprieve after a stressful season that started on a positive note.

“Last season brought mixed feelings to us,” Furman said. “We won the MTN8 and reached the final of the CAF Confederation Cup. But we also struggled towards the end and found ourselves in an unfamiliar position. That’s where family played an important role. It was important to have a good support structure at home to weather the storm. I had that with Natasha and I am sure that the boys also had that which is what helped us finish strong.”

Matsatsantsa have started their pre-season with the aim of improving on the shortfalls of last season and building on what they did right. Kaitano Tembo has been putting the players through their paces in preparations for the season that starts next month. It’s still unclear whether SuperSport will start the new season with Tembo at the helm or they will hire another coach. 

Tembo’s advantage is that his blood is blue. Next year will be his 20th year at SuperSport. The players are fond of him which is why he was able to steady the ship after coach Eric Tinkler’s resignation while Matsatsantsa were on a freefall.

“Obviously we would like to forget the bad that happened last season but there were also some positives that we need to take to the new season,” Furman said. “We had an amazing run in the Confederation Cup. That campaign strengthened the bond and our mental strength because of the things that we had to overcome. We need to adopt that mindset.

“We didn’t suddenly become a bad team overnight. It’s just that we were not prepared for what came after the Confederation Cup. We were drained after going all the way to the final and then we found ourselves having to play catch up in the league. It was difficult and that’s why we found ourselves in the position we were in towards the end of the season.”

SuperSport haven’t done much business in this transfer window. The Tshwane side still has a decent squad that can challenge for honours with a good balance between experience and youth. Evans Rusike, a prolific striker, has gelled with his teammates having joined them in January as a replacement for Jeremy Brockie who joined Mamelodi Sundowns.

SuperSport’s woes last season were compounded by their misfiring ways in front of goal. It’s an area they need to strengthen if they are to challenge for honours in what promises to be an exciting and challenging season. Their biggest “buy” so far is the return of Kamohelo Mahlatsi from his loan spell at Ubuntu Cape Town.

“Yes the other teams strengthened their squads but we still have quality in our team,” Furman said. “We just need to tap into that quality and we can return to our best. We will be looking to play like we did two seasons ago. We were at the top for three-quarters of that season and went on a 19-match unbeaten run. Last season was an eye-opener for us and we will return stronger.”

The Star

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