JOHANNESBURG – If current form is one of the key factors that earns players inclusion in the national squad, then Kermit Erasmus’s omission from the Bafana Bafana squad to face Libya in the final African Cup of Nations qualifier is a travesty.
Expectedly, coach Stuart Baxter justified his decision of leaving the on-fire Cape Town City striker out in the cold.
“Was he considered? Absolutely. I had a very long conversation with his coach Benni McCarthy. I’ve been in touch with Kermit for a while and I went down to Cape Town to watch him play,” Baxter said.
“He does have an international flavour to his game, and based on that he was considered. But based on the fact that he hasn’t played until the last four-five weeks, I think he’s risen to back-up slightly.”
But when you are going into a match as key as next weekend’s (March 24) tie with The Mediterranean Knights in neutral Tunisia, logic dictates that you pick your most in form players.
And they do not come as hot as Erasmus at the moment. Having recently started playing for Benni McCarthy’s team, Erasmus has shown that kind of form which made him one of the country’s top finishers and a sought-after player by European clubs.
In a country where goalscoring is a serious problem, the fact that Erasmus has found the net in all of his club’s last three matches tells the story of a player who could work some magic for the national team.
Touted as group favourites when the draw was initially made, Bafana contrived to make a mockery of their billing by failing to beat Libya on home soil and shockingly drawing at lowly Seychelles.
They now need to get a point against the North Africans who would be confident of grabbing the maximum points after holding their own in South Africa, the fact that they are ‘hosting’ Bafana in neutral Sfax notwithstanding.
While Baxter left out Erasmus, he has incredibly included both Bongani Zungu and Keagan Dolly despite having not played for their teams this year.
Baxter explained that the two Europe-based players have been given some playing time with their reserve teams but admitted he cannot be sure if that is good enough to have them ready for Libya.
The Bafana squad for Libya is:
Goalkeepers: Darren Keet, Ronwen Williams, Bruce Bvuma
Defenders: Thulani Hlatshwayo, Innocent Maela, Sifiso Hlanti, Daniel Cardoso, Rivaldo Coetzee, Aubrey Modiba, Buhle Mkwanazi, Thamsanqa Mkhize
Midfielders: Dean Furman, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Themba Zwane, Thembinkosi Lorch, Hlompho Kekana, Bongani Zungu, Tiyani Mabunda, Thulani Serero
Strikers: Keagan Dolly, Lebo Mothiba, Lebohang Maboe, Lars Veldwijk, Percy Tau@Mihlalibaleka