How Bafana’s youngsters ben­e­fit by go­ing Dutch

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - JOHN GO­LIATH

“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.”

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