South Africa head coach Molefi Ntseki has defended his decision to include Dean Furman in his latest squad.
The experienced midfielder currently plays for Carlisle United, who are campaigning in the fourth-tier of English football, League Two.
League Two has been likened to the SAB regional league in South Africa and Ntseki included Furman in the Bafana Bafana squad which will face Sao Tome and Principe in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
“I think when it comes to that [the selection of Furman] we must look at ourselves through the mirror to say are we as a country are producing players that are playing in top leagues in Europe,” Ntseki said on Sowetan.
“If we have those players [playing in top leagues]‚ who are those players? If immediately you don’t get any of such players you’ll always go to the other countries that are not in the top five leagues in the world or in Europe.
“If you look at our team‚ all our players for the past years or so‚ especially if you’re talking of the past five years‚ they’re not in the top five leagues in the world."
Ntseki gave an example of Furman's Bafana teammates Kamohelo Mokotjo, Lebogang Phiri and Bongani Zungu.
“Maybe they’re in the bottom five in terms of the top 10. So in understanding our players and the quality we have in the country‚ we have players coming from France and France is not in the top five," he continued.
“We had players playing from England like [Kamohelo] Mokotjo who was playing for Brentford FC in the Championship League. Last season before he moved to FC Cincinnati in the US‚ he was not playing in the EPL [Premier League].
"We had Bongani Zungu playing in France [for Amiens in Ligue 2]‚ we had Lebo Phiri playing [for Guingamp] in Ligue 2‚ which is a lower league in France.”
Furman left SuperSport United in June 2020 citing family commitments as the main reason why he was leaving the Tshwane giants where he had a successful five-year spell winning two Nedbank Cups and two MTN8 titles.
Ntseki also reminded the public that Furman made his Bafana debut when playing for Oldham Athletic in the English third-tier, League One in September 2012.
“When we brought Dean Furman here for the first time‚ [he was] not playing in the Premier League but playing in the lower division‚” Ntseki said about Furman, who has 54 Bafana caps.
“Since Furman came to South Africa he played in the Premier Soccer League and he’s been a regular performer for Bafana Bafana. And this is a Dean Furman who left the country last season.
"Are we now saying Dean Furman who played regularly for SuperSport‚ who won trophies for SuperSport and who has got so many caps in Bafana now all of a sudden when he goes to England and gets a team in the lower division is no longer the quality that we’re looking for?”
Bafana will host Sao Tome and Principe at Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 13, before taking the battle to Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium where they will technically be the away side on November 16.