|Iniesta in my pocket: Dean Furman|
DEAN FURMAN was in the passport control queue when I got hold of him last week after South Africa’s epic 1-0 win over world champions Spain.
With the new FIFA rankings out on Thursday, 61st-placed Bafana are expected to move up in the world, but for the 25-year-old Cape Town-born midfielder, this was simply: “One of the highlights of my career. A night I’ll never forget.”
Speaking on my football show BOLLOCKZ! on www.ballz.co.za, Furman laughed loudly when I suggested he had to allow Barcelona great Andres Iniesta out of his pocket for a second-half substitution.
Furman marshalled the World Cup winning Spaniards with some authority and Iniesta – scorer of the winning goal in the final at Soccer City in 2010 – was unable to repeat his heroics at the same stadium with Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali creating a dynamic midfield trio for the first time.
Though our chat with Furman was rudely interrupted by passport control at Heathrow, his enthusiasm sparkled down the long-distance line.
With Furman and Bongani Khumalo playing for Doncaster Rovers and striker Tokelo Rantie now at Bournemouth, South Africa’s epic victory sparked interested in England too with Furman admitting: “Everone is talking about Bafana now. I’m still scratching my head about how we actually did it but in all honesty we played very well on the night.
“We had a game plan, we sat back and let the Spanish have it in their own half and when they came into ours, we pressed them, tried to catch them on the counter. We’ve got some great players going forward, with real pace.
“We knew that would cause them some problems on the night.
“Up against Alonso, Iniesta, Busquets, then Mata and Cazorla, it didn’t get an easier the whole night but it was a great spectacle, great to come up with a win.
“Against players like that you have to raise your game. Their movement off the ball is spectacular, they’re so clever. Communicating with each other was vital.
“It was unbelievable. For a very proud nation, there have been some disappointments, going out on penalties in the AFCON, not qualifying for the World Cup.
“This was a victory for the fans, the nation. The supporters were all coming up to thank us. It was a great moment for everyone. We can really build from here.”
Furman, who scored before being sent off in his first game back with Doncaster against Yeovil last Friday, grinned: “It’s been a crazy week Neal, great to get a goal and three points but gutted to get my first red!”
BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, airs every Thursday from 9am. See the Ballz channel on www.YouTube.com for our growing collection of interviews with the big names in South African football.
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