JOHANNESBURG – SuperSport United skipper Dean Furman understands that league matches and cup competitions are a different kettle of fish; hence he’s still wary of the Kaizer Chiefs’ firepower that hammered Free State Stars 3-0 in the MTN 8 quarter-finals earlier this month.
SuperSport will host Chiefs first over the two-legged semi-final contest of the competition at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Sunday (kick-off at 3pm). The return leg is scheduled to be played at FNB Stadium on September 1 (8.15pm).
“In the quarter-finals we sat back and allowed Pirates too much space off the ball and that is something we don’t want to do with Chiefs because we know that they’ve got some fantastic players going forward,” Furman explained.
“We also want to stop them from getting the ball. One other thing that we also want to work on is applying a little bit of pressure to the ball, to stop their forward players from getting themselves into the game. And that will certainly help us along the way.”
In the league though, Amakhosi’s attack has been blunt, the Glamour Boys enduring a four-game winless streak - they’ve drawn three times and lost once.
On the other hand, Furman and company have started well in terms of recovering from last season’s relegation threat. They recently recorded back-to-back wins against AmaZulu and Bidvest Wits - while their blemish was the 2-0 loss to Cape Town City in the season opener.
The 30-year-old midfielder is optimistic that with a clean bill of health this season, they can avoid the inconsistent performances from the last campaign. While they won the MTN 8 trophy and reached their maiden Caf Confederations Cup final, SuperSport nearly lost their top-flight status.
“We’ve had a good start this season, but there’s always room for improvement,” Furman insisted. “We had a good break - in the pre-season - and there are not many players in the injury room. We hope for a clean bill of health, hence there’s more optimism to do well this season.”
He added: “Last campaign there was a mixture of results and I think because we didn’t have an off-season that caught up with us. We were hit by fatigue, injuries and unfortunately that showed in our league form.”
Furman believes that they also owe some of their bright start to new coach Kaitano Tembo. Tembo took over the reigns as an interim coach in March following the resignation of Eric Tinkler who came under fire after losing the dressing room.
The 48-year-old coach served within the club structures for several years but was only recently given the coaching role on a permanent basis.
“From the moment he took over (last season), the players have always seen him as the coach,” Furman said.
“We’ve known each other for a long time, so when he stepped up to be a full-time coach, we were fully behind him.
“I think he’s brought togetherness in the team so far. And we’ll get the results through the tightening of the team,” Furman added.
SuperSport will be banking on a clean sheet at home, if they are to make the final and keep their chances of retaining their MTN 8 trophy alive.