Tournament Football Is All About Points

Bafana Bafana captain Dean Furman says South Africa only has itself to blame for crashing out of the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Equatorial Guinea 2015 tournament.  South Africa lost 2-1 to Ghana in the final Group C match on Tuesday, 23 January.  The match took place at Stade de Mongomo.

At the end Bafana Bafana finished bottom of the group with just one point and three goals.  They suffered two defeats and played on draw. South Africa lost 1-3 to Algeria and played to a 1-all draw with Senegal. SAFA Media spoke to captain Dean Furman after the match.

Q: Huge disappointment at crushing out of the tournament?

A: Yes it is.  We came here with high hopes and realistically we let ourselves down in a similar way in all the three games and that is something we have look into.  We took the lead brilliantly and we played some outstanding football throughout the tournament.  We have a lot of positives to talk about though, but we have to look at where we went wrong.  There are many areas where we still need to improve but overall we will take the experience of this tournament.  We had a lot of young players in their first AFCON and we have to learn from where we went wrong and hopefully next time around we will be a lot stronger.

Q: We scored first in all three matches but could not protect the lead, what could be the reason?

A: It was evident in all three games that we dropped a little too deep, inviting pressure on ourselves against these top teams with top strikers, and you will get punished, and that’s exactly what happened to us.  We have to work on our game of staying solid while still allowing ourselves to play the exciting, expanding game of football that has won us so many fans over here.  There are many positives to take but those are the key areas to work on to make this team a success.

Q: In all three matches in the tournament, tonight (vs Ghana) wasn’t one of our best…

A: Yes it wasn’t our best performance.  I thought at times we played good football where we grew into the game a little bit.  After a bit of a shaky start in the second half we lost our composure on the ball, stopped passing and stopped playing the way we are used to and started slashing our clearances.  Maybe there was so much at stake and we were so eager to get over the line a bit, our style of play just deserted us.  That is something we need to learn from and take into account but it will certainly make us stronger as individuals and as a team.

Q: Which would say was one of the best matches for us in the tournament?

A: I think the first two definitely stood out for me.  The first 60 or 70 minutes we played some top football and it was a pleasure being in the team and that’s the overall disappointment.  We took three teams all the way and we were in a position to beat three top teams in this continent, and to go crushing out with only one point to show for it is a major disappointment for us.  We have to turn our performances back into victories and points, this is tournament football there is no time for performances or plaudits, it’s all about points only and that is something we need to learn as well, however we get the points we must sure we get them.  But I am proud to have been in this team, with some exciting youngsters with great talents and that’s something we have displayed in the three games.

Q: On the basis of this tournament who is the future of South African football?

A: It looks great.  The Under-20s just won a tournament in Russia and we are proud of them.  There are a lot of youngsters in this Bafana Bafana team making their first AFCON appearance and maybe at times their lack of experience showed a little bit but we will only be stronger for it going forward and will definitely learn a lot from this tournament.

Q: Overall impression of the team in this tournament.

A: I think it was exciting and we had so many plaudits for our style of play the way we performed but we have to work on what really went wrong in this tournament if we want to improve as a team and be reaching further stages in these tournaments.  Surely, the first game we should have won and had been in a more comfortable position going into the last game but it wasn’t to be.  We now have to look into the next campaign.

Q: Any improvement on the last AFCON if you compare the two?

A: Hard to say.  The last AFCON we went further in the competition only to lose out on penalties.  But it was a very different team, very different set up, different coaching staff and now we are building for the future, and with that in mind, it is an exciting time.

Q: Personally how was the tournament for you, especially as captain?

A: It was an absolute honour to lead the team out.  Just being involved in this team is a privilege but to be captain was a great honour and something I will cherish for the rest of my career.

Q: And to the fans back home who have been supporting and are equally disappointed…

A: We just want to say to them we are hurting just much as they are.  We thank them so much for their support, they have been with us all the way.  The minister of sport has been here and relayed their messages, we are just so disappointed we couldn’t take them further, but we hope we made them proud.  We fought, we left nothing out there and we will come back stronger.

Photo credit: AFP PHOTO / CARL DE SOUZA