Doncaster Rovers: South Africa can go all the way, says AFCON-bound Dean Furman

Dean Furman
Dean Furman

Dean Furman says South Africa have no intention of making up the numbers at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Doncaster Rovers midfielder jetted off for a training camp in Gabon this week ahead of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea, which kicks off on January 17.

South Africa have been drawn in a tough group alongside Algeria, Senegal and Ghana, but Furman - who is expected to captain his country - says Bafana Bafana have nothing to fear on the big stage after qualifying in impressive fashion.

“There’s no point in us turning up if we don’t believe we can go and win it,” said Furman.

“Our group is incredibly tough with three top teams full of players playing in Europe’s top leagues, so we know it’s going to be difficult.

“But there’s no point in us going into the competition without the belief we can go all the way, and that will be the focus for us.

“We’re going into the tournament with a lot of confidence after our qualification campaign,” he added.

“We got off to a perfect start and went top of the group from the third game - and never looked back really. The African champions Nigeria were in our group and knocking them out was a massive scalp.

“It’s been a big disappointment over the past decade or so that South Africa has not qualified for these major tournaments, so it was important to get off to that good start.

“We did that and we qualified in style.

“So it’s very promising for us going forward that we know we can do it on the Continent and hopefully we can carry that into the competition.”

Furman, who has been a key figure in Rovers’ recent impressive form, will miss this month’s league games with Oldham, Barnsley and Notts County and the FA Cup third round replay at Bristol City at the very least.

If South Africa were to reach the final, the 26-year-old would be absent until mid-February - and Furman admits that leaving his club at such a crucial time of the season harbours mixed emotions.

“It’s the old club versus country row and it’s something I never thought would happen to me, and I can see the conflict of interests,” he said.

“Whilst it is amazing to go and play for my country, and it’s a wonderful honour and something that I really enjoy, it definitely does have an effect on this side of things [with Doncaster Rovers].

“Doncaster are my club and they pay my wages and [playing for South Africa] does kind of leave me in the middle ground, but at the same time playing for country is a great honour.

“It’s an important time of year for clubs and it’s a time when teams can really kick on, which is something we’re hopefully going to do.

“So it’s difficult bang in the middle of the season to miss so many games and it’s something I’m not particularly happy about. But, as players, there’s nothing you can do. We just have to do our best over there and hope the boys do well over here.”

South Africa’s opening AFCON game is against Algeria on Monday, January 19.