Matlhomola Morake (MM): How is the team feeling after a long travel?
Dean Furman (DF): We have a good 10 days or so to prepare and we are excited about the upcoming tournament. It’s important that we are here now and settled in our hotel and getting used to the conditions and the surroundings. The quicker we can acclimatise the better it will be for us in the tournament.
MM: How will the experience in the qualifiers help in the upcoming tournament?
DF: It was important to go and experience the different conditions in our qualifiers. We have to use that experience to our advantage in the tournament because, if truth be told, we passed them with flying colours by coming back with victories away from home – and that is something we can take confidence from and help us going forward in this tournament.
MM: How much will the warm-up matches assist the team?
DF: It is great to play a couple of preparatory matches before we start the tournament to allow the coach to try some tactical stuff and also try different players. So there is a lot riding on these games, they might be called friendlies but they are a lot important than that. We can prepare well for the tournament by doing well in these matches.
MM: Playing Cameroon in Gabon, what can we expect?
DF: Cameroon is one of the top teams on the continent, they are strong and they will pose a difficult threat. I am certain they will be confident going forward in the tournament so it’s a great test for us and certainly a great way to prepare.
MM: What can you take out from the qualifiers that will help the team in the tournament?
DF: We must take belief from our qualification campaign. No one expected the run of games that we had and we have a lot of confidence going through now, we can’t get sloppy and think we made it because we are not where we want to be as yet. We started well, we are doing well, and we must continue on that path and aim to improve every day.
MM: What do you make of the send-off from the supporters?
DF: There is a lot of excitement from the boys, the send-off we got yesterday from our fans at the airport just shows what the excitement is like back home. Now that we are in Gabon and we can get a head-start and focus on our preparations for the tournament and it is a very exciting time for us as players.
MM: This is your second AFCON tournament, what are you expecting personally?
DF: I would like it to be different. I have some good memories from the first one which was played on home soil and it was incredible, with big crowds. But there are also some not so good memories with penalty shootout the main one – which shows we were just a penalty shootout from the semi-finals and we are much more capable of matching the top teams on the continent, something we can take a lot of belief from. But now it’s a new squad, a new team and we have to make sure that we are ready for this tournament which will pose different threats, and we have to up our game to the maximum.
MM: How will the team approach the tournament?
DF: For us as individuals we have to make sure that we play well enough to keep in the coach’s plans for the future, so there is a lot at stake for us as a team, as a nation but also as individuals so we need to make sure we are on top of our game at all times.
MM: How far does the team want to go in the tournament?
DF: Football is for winners, there is no point playing the game if you don’t want to win. Of course we want to go as far as we can, we want to win the tournament and that is our focus and aim and how knows, we might be able to achieve them.