Baxter shuns ‘limelight-hungry’ Erasmus for Bafana’s key Afcon clash
SA need a draw against Libya in Sfax to qualify for Egypt 2019, while North Africans have to win
Kermit Erasmus’s perceived propensity to be a star player weighed against Stuart Baxter picking the in-form Cape Town City forward for Bafana Bafana’s huge Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya in Tunisia.
SA need a draw against Libya in Sfax on March 24 to qualify for Egypt 2019 in June and July, while Libya need a win.
Bafana coach Baxter said he certainly had Erasmus‚ who has scored three goals in three Premiership games for City‚ in mind for his squad‚ but opted in the end not to select the former Orlando Pirates and Rennes forward.
“I had a long conversation with his coach‚ Benni McCarthy. I’ve been in touch with Kermit for a while. I went down to Cape Town to watch him play against Swedish team Hacken [in a friendly on February 5], because I wanted to see some of the Cape Town players against international opposition, how they would cope with that.
“And Kermit came in as a substitute and did exceptionally well for 20 minutes. So he showed that he does have that sort of international flavour to his game.
“So based on that — yes [he was considered].
“[Because] Kermit has not played a lot‚ until let’s say‚ about the last four or five weeks‚ [there] is probably reason to back off slightly.
“I did say to Benni I thought he’d done a fantastic job with Kermit. And I think the reason he has is that Kermit plays best when he is loved and appreciated.
“I think Kermit has problems if he’s on the periphery. Because he feels like he’s an important player‚ and he is an important player. But maybe he doesn’t deal with it too well if he’s a squad player.
“Now he’s feeling as if he’s the man at City. And I didn’t think I could give him that scenario now with the national team. And based on that‚ I don’t think we would have got the best out of Kermit.
“So… that‚ plus a reduced squad‚ plus the players who I have chosen who I think will impact the game [weighed against Erasmus].”