How Bafana’s youngsters benefit by going Dutch
“THE Dutch way” has been very helpful for South African football players over the last decade.
Two of the country’s biggest football exports, striker Benni McCarthy and midfielder Steven Pienaar, have been among those who have benefited from leaving South Africa’s shores at a young age to develop their football in the Netherlands at Ajax Amsterdam.
Now, two 19-year-old exports – incidentally also a striker and an attacking midfielder – are look- ing to make their names in the Bafana Bafana set-up.
Striker Kermit Eramus and midfielder Daylon Claasen have been included in the squad for this afternoon’s friendly against Japan at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, as well as the game against Jamaica on Tuesday.
The two players were rewarded for their excellent performances at the recent Under-20 World Cup, in which they helped South Africa reach the second round.
Erasmus, who is on loan at Excelsior Rottedam from Dutch giants Feyenoord, is being tipped as the man to succeed McCarthy when the burly striker calls it a day. He is not the tallest of players by any stretch of the imagination, but is a stocky forward in the mould of Romario and Wayne Rooney.
After netting three goals in four games, new coach Carlos Alberto Parreira couldn’t ignore the Port Elizabeth-born youngster, who says he wasn’t all that surprised by the call up.
“I was hoping to get the call up, because I played well (at the World Cup) and built a platform to get to next year’s senior World Cup,” Erasmus said. “I showed that I can be given an opportunity to play at the senior level.
“But, it’s a great achievement for me to be selected, especially in my home town.”
According to Eramus, playing abroad has done a lot for his football and says the recent junior World Cup will also play a big role in his football in the future.
“It (playing abroad) has helped me with the right technique, my mental approach to the game and the movements off the ball. The Dutch have great devel- opment systems for young players,” Eramus said. “The experience (at the World Cup) was different than at club level. Most of the games were do-or-die affairs. Teams are afraid of being knocked out and they play to the final whistle. They keep on attacking, whether they are winning or losing.
“At club level, if you are 1-0 or 2-0 up then you tend to take your foot off the pedal. But at the World Cup it’s a different atmosphere. I gained a lot of experience and I will carry it through the rest of my career.”
Claasen is a product of Ajax Cape Town youth structures and got a move to Amsterdam after a successful trial. He has a lot of junior awards under his belt, because of his unbelievable ball control, speed and vision.
“Going to Amsterdam has been very good for my career and my development. You learn a lot of technical stuff that you don’t normally learn in South Africa,” Claasen said.
“However, you still have to work very work. You have to sacrifice a lot to make it abroad and I am working very hard.”