Erasmus delighted with Bafana return

Players Abroad

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The France-based player, who had a strained relationship with former Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, last donned his country’s jersey in a 2-2 draw against Nigeria on 19 November 2014 in Uyo – he was replaced after 39 minutes.

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Erasmus is currently in Durban with Bafana as they prepare to face Guinea-Bissau in a friendly on Saturday at Moses Mabhida Stadium (15h00 kick-off).

This will be followed by another friendly with Angola next Tuesday at Buffalo City Stadium in East London (19h00).

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Erasmus said: “It’s a great opportunity, I am happy to be back in South Africa, it feels awesome because I haven’t been here in about a year, so I am really happy be to back in the national team set-up, and looking forward to the two upcoming matches. Hopefully we can play some good and entertaining football and win those two games.

“Everybody knows the reason I was not here before but I don’t want to talk about the past, I am focused on the upcoming games. I have always wanted to represent my country and I am here now to do just that. I want to focus on the present and structure the future to make sure it looks bright. I knew this question would come, but these things happen – it is part of football and we just have to deal with them and move on. The rest is all in the past.”

Erasmus is embracing the pressure of getting goals for his country.

“As a footballer there is always pressure to produce what the fans want and what the team needs, so I don’t see it as pressure but a challenge. The good thing is that we have a lot of players that can contribute to scoring goals. Besides me there are other strikers, so we have take it upon ourselves as a collective to do well and hopefully we can produce what is needed.”

The tricky forward is determined to make the most of the opportunity presented by interim coach Owen da Gama.

“There is an opportunity in every situation, and it’s what you make of it that matters. I am just trying to make the most of it, to give my best. After all, it’s every footballer's dream to represent their country at the bigger stage. These two matches are preparations for us, and sort of a trial as individuals to prove to the coach that we are sticking our hands up to represent the country when major tournaments arrive. Everybody has a chance to prove themselves, it is up to all the individuals to grab the chance.”

The former Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United player moved to France early in 2016 to join Stade Rennes in Ligue 1, but did not enjoy enough game-time. He was then loaned to second-tier outfit Lens, where he is now a regular.

“Making a loan move to Lens has helped me a lot because now I am playing a lot, and I have helped the team get to the number one position on the league table. So I am happy, the club is happy with my contribution and my progress, my coach is happy and so is my family – so this is a good period for me, not only about my career but also in my life in general.

“I never thought of coming back when I was not playing. My biggest mistakes when I was in Europe for the first time was to come back home – and I am not saying anything bad about the South African league – but I am talking about my career as an individual. I think I was misguided at the time. Being back in Europe this time and not playing was very frustrating but I have my family that supported me and things turned around for the better because I stayed positive, kept on working hard and I knew that my chance would come – whether playing for my team or going on loan. So I am happy that I made the right decision to go on loan. Now I am playing regularly, and I am back in the national team.”

Born:                          8 July, 1990

Position:                     Striker

Club:                           Lens (France)

Caps:                          11

Goals:                         1
National team debut:               v Niger, 2012 Nations Cup qualifier, 04 September 2010

Last game played:                    v Nigeria, African Nations Cup qualifier, 19 November, 2014

First goal scored:                      v Botswana, World Cup Group A qualifier, 7 September, 2013

Caps per club:                           SuperSport United 4, Orlando Pirates 7