Furman’s body on the block

Mean Dean: Dean Furman (centre) during the 2013 Nelson Mandela Challenge match between South Africa and Nigeria. He is one of Africa’s best holding midfielders. (Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Mean Dean: Dean Furman (centre) during the 2013 Nelson Mandela Challenge match between South Africa and Nigeria. He is one of Africa’s best holding midfielders. (Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

THE REAL MAKOYA

Coach Stuart Baxter made it crystal clear before Bafana’s departure to hostile West Africa for the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier that he required soldiers for the battle against ­Nigeria.

And several members of Bafana raised their hands in the epic encounter at Uyo stadium. The South Africans turned the screws on the Super Eagles and emerged with a momentous 2-0 victory.

In the aftermath, the spotlight was on Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau, the two strikers who scored the goals that handed South Africa its first-ever victory in an official fixture against their perennial rivals since readmittance to Fifa back in 1992.

But there were many other heroes. One of them was Dean Furman, the SuperSport United anchorman who earns our gong as the Real Makoya.

For the duration of the encounter, he repeatedly put his body on the line and acted as a protective shield in front of the back four, performing like an enraged jealous husband and refusing to allow any passage to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

There must have been countless sceptics when Baxter announced his starting line-up without the reliable Andile Jali, who was on the bench. They probably expected Bafana would wilt under Nigeria’s expected onslaught.

But the combative Furman, emerging afterwards battered and sporting bruises all over his body, must have been satisfied that he had managed to shackle the feared Nigerian midfield and, better still, enhanced his reputation as one of the finest holding midfielders on the continent.

He toiled like a beaver alongside Bongani Zungu and covered every inch of that manicured Uyo stadium grass.

To crown a near-faultless day, he cleared what would have been a certain goal off the line on the only occasion when Nigeria managed to breach a solid South African
defence.

 

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