South Africa’s bid to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon basically came unstuck in their opening two games, as they picked up just one point against Gambia and Mauritania.
Only the team that tops World Cup Group D goes to Russia, meaning a similar effort in Burkina Faso on Saturday and at home to Senegal in November is likely to not only cost Shakes Mashaba his job, but also leave Bafana all but on the World Cup scrapheap before the year is out.
“We know we lost the (Afcon 2017) group at the start and something we have to make sure we do in the coming campaign is start well,” said Furman this week.
“Since that disappointment at the start of the last campaign our results and performances have been good. It is always difficult going to the continent, but we are confident that if we play similar to the way we played against Egypt (Bafana won last month’s Nelson Mandela Challenge 1-0), we can come back with a good result … we don’t want to be playing catch-up. If you look at the previous Afcon (2015), we were top of the (qualifying) group throughout and had something to keep hold of.”
With Andile Jali out injured for the game against the Stallions, Furman could well start in central midfield on Saturday alongside Mamelodi Sundowns’ Hlompho Kekana.
“Jali is a massive player for us, he is one of our top performers and has a big impact on the way the team plays,” added Furman.
“But for the players selected, it is up to us to step up to the mark and show we are capable of taking that jersey. I know the players in the squad are more than capable of doing the job.”
Bafana Bafana arrived in Burkina Faso yesterday, and will hope to avoid a repeat of their last visit to the August 4 Stadium in Ouagadougou, when Stuart Baxter’s South Africa lost 3-1 in a World Cup 2006 qualifier against the Stallions, a result that sealed their fate on the road to Germany.
The Burkinabe will be without their regular goalkeeper on Saturday, former Free State Stars shot-stopper Daouda Diakite. Diakite is out injured for five months and will also miss the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon.
Coach Paulo Duarte has called up 24-year-old Germain Sanou as his replacement.