There is only one way Bafana Bafana can attract big crowds again – they have to start winning games, said midfielder Dean Furman, who dished up a man of the match performance against Libya during a poorly attended Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
A small crowd turned up in the rain to watch South Africa play to a goalless draw against the strife-torn north African nation.
It was the first official football match to be staged at the iconic arena since fans went on the rampage following Kaizer Chiefs’ Nedbank Cup semifinal defeat to Free State Stars in April.
“For us as players, the challenge is to start winning games to get the fans back in the stadium – it’s as simple as that,” Furman said after the match.
“We are disappointed that the stadium wasn’t full and, to the fans who came today, we thank them for supporting us through and thick and thin.
“We know the fans expect a lot from us and probably rightly so. We need that winning mentality – that’s what top teams have. They don’t celebrate nil-nil. We don’t have to accept nil-nil with Libya as a good result,” added the SuperSport United captain.
Furman said past disappointments of losing to so-called minnows and subsequently failing to qualify for major tournaments should serve as motivation for Bafana.
South Africa will face Group E whipping boys Seychelles in back-to-back clashes next month.
Many expect coach Stuart Baxter’s side to steamroll the islanders, who lost 3-0 to Nigeria on Saturday. They also suffered a 5-1 thrashing from Libya in their opening fixture.
“Our mentality has to be the same as if we’re going out to play Nigeria away,” said Furman, in reference to Bafana’s historic 2-0 away win over the Super Eagles last year.
“Seychelles has to be treated like we’re playing Nigeria, Ivory Coast or Ghana, or one of the big nations. We’ve seen in world football that upsets happen. So, with anything less than the right mentality, we’re going to cause ourselves problems. And maybe some of the defeats we’ve had in previous campaigns to the so-called less fancied nations – we’ve got to use that as our motivation to not allow it to happen again. We’ve been letting ourselves and the country down by not qualifying for major tournaments.”
As for how Bafana can improve, the combative midfielder drew on some aspects from the post-mortem of the draw against Libya.
“We were a little bit slow on the ball. Too many touches and maybe our passing was not as crisp as it could have been, and that’s how to unlock a team that works extremely hard at getting bodies behind the ball. That’s one area we can improve on. I think getting more bodies into the box is something that we also need to improve on.”