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Club-versus-country dilemma

6 December 2012

Mixed emotions for Furman

Dean Furman admits it has been difficult juggling club and international commitments for the first time in his career.

The midfield man (pictured) has this season become a regular in the South Africa squad preparing for the African Cup of Nations which kicks off in January.

While excited at the prospect of playing in his first international tournament, Furman admits it is not ideal when it comes to regularly missing Latics' matches.

Furman said: "To play in a major tournament on home soil will be an incredible experience - though I have yet to be selected so can't look that far ahead.

"On the flip side, I will miss games for Latics. I have been here for a number of years and the club means everything to me. I want to help them to do well.

"If your country comes calling, though, it is hard to turn them down."

Furman has also had to contend with travelling about 30,000 miles on international duty already as well as adjusting to climatic chances and altitude as Johannesburg is 6,000ft above sea level.

He is also aware that his absences mean there is no guarantee of an immediate first-team recall on his return as has happened this season.

Furman, who will know next week whether he has made the preliminary 30-man squad, has featured in all five internationals South Africa have played since the start of the season.

He has, however, been excused from a training camp and friendly against Malawi three days before Christmas which means he will be available for the away game at Yeovil.

Latics are hoping Furman will be allowed to play in the FA Cup with Budweiser, third-round tie against Nottingham Forest before joining up with South Africa who have a friendly against Norway three days after the cup clash.

It will be after the Norway game that Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund will have to reduce his squad to 23 players for the tournament.

South Africa have been grouped with Angola, Cape Verde and Morocco in the African Cup of Nations. Two matches will be in Durban and the remaining one in Johannesburg.

Furman says there is great excitement, as well as pressure, with South Africa hosting the tournament.

He explained: "South Africa is a big country so everybody wants to beat them.

"We last won the African Cup of Nations in 1996 and since then have failed to qualify for several tournaments.

"As we are on home soil, it will be guaranteed countries will want to beat us even more."

Furman says South Africa's group will be difficult with Morocco one of the tournament favourites, Angola also strong while Cape Verde are unknown quantities.

He said: "Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony so will have a lot of Portuguese players and according to sources could be strong. And unknowns can be dangerous.

"Of the games I have played for South Africa, Zambis have been the best African country I have played against.

"They don't have any big-name players yet they are the holders and play as a team."

Furman is hoping the fact South Africa are on home soil will give the Bafana Bafana an extra push.

He says playing friendlies in front of far from capacity crowds has been memorable.

"The noise made by 20,000 fans with their vuvuzelas has been incredible so goodness knows what it will be like when they are full with 60,000 fans," he explained.

* Furman was today being interviewed by BBC World Service for a feature on the African Cup of Nations. 



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