Roger de Sa will pin his hopes on Kermit Erasmus this afternoon as Orlando Pirates seek to overturn a poor start to their domestic campaign when they take on their new striker’s former team, SuperSport United.
Pirates suffered a shock home loss to AmaZulu in their opening league match on Thursday, a result De Sa blamed squarely on poor finishing. But failure to convert chances did not begin this week for the Buccaneers.
It dates back to the latter part of last season, when they drew and even lost a succession of games to surrender the title to rivals Kaizer Chiefs. For that reason, De Sa ventured into the market in pre-season, recruiting Erasmus with the hope that he would solve Bucs’ scoring woes.
On Thursday against AmaZulu, Erasmus was indeed Pirates’s best attacker, forcing several saves by Usuthu goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe, and Bucs will require him to be even sharper this afternoon when they host SuperSport in an MTN8 quarter-final at Mbombela.
Erasmus is unflustered about facing his former team so early – in just his second game for Pirates.
“It was always going to happen. I’m happy it’s happening now so that I can get over and done with it,” Erasmus said this week.
While Pirates crashed to Usuthu, SuperSport made an impressive start to the campaign last week, hammering Free State Stars to become early pace-setters atop the Premier League standings. That, however, does not fill Erasmus with regret, saying he made the right move and that it’s only a matter of time before his career at this new team takes off.
“II’m not one to look back,” Erasmus said. “I’m focusing on my new team and when we get on the field (today), all I’ll be thinking about is how to make my team win. I want to do well so that I can make myself and my family proud.”
Erasmus, 23, conceded he had yet to fulfil his potential since he made a return to the domestic game from Holland a few seasons ago.
“Every season I set myself a target of how many goals I’d like to score, but it hasn’t really happened. This season I will take it game by game.”
The Port Elizabeth-born striker says he’s been eased into the Pirates set up by fellow former United teammates Thandani Ntshumayelo and Daine Klate. “They have helped a lot, but I know most of the guys because we played together at the national team. I have settled in well.”
De Sa, meanwhile, will hope the MTN8 brings him better luck. Last year, an embarrassing loss to SuperSport in semi-finals of this competition contributed to Pirates parting ways with Augusto Palacios and De Sa taking over.
Thursday’s defeat to AmaZulu means the latter could find himself similarly under pressure should Bucs not qualify for tomorrow’s semi-final draw.
“We didn’t play badly (against AmaZulu),” De Sa said. “We just couldn’t score. But my job is to help us get there and I won’t lose hope. I was content with the performance and if we take our chances, we will beat SuperSport.”
De Sa is likely to restore Klate, Lucky Lekgwathi and Ntshumayelo to his starting XI today, but he denied he had prioritised cup competitions after the trio missed Thursday’s league opener.
“We plan the same for every game. I just want to put the best XI out there. It’s never about resting players for a particular game. It can happen that we succeed in certain competitions, and others not so.” - Sunday Independent