Ex-Bafana star resurfaces in PE


Former Bafana Bafana and Blackburn Rovers midfielder Elrio van Heerden has resurfaced in his home town of Port Elizabeth and has since ventured into coaching.

Van Heerden, who amassed 33 caps for the South African senior national team between 2004 and 2009, has been under the radar since leaving Golden Arrows in 2012.

The 36-year-old, who has turned out for clubs such as FC Copenhagen, Club Brugge, Blackburn, Sivaspor and KVC Westerlo, has since returned to the scene after being roped in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University's football side,  also known as Madibaz Football Club.

A key figure at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations, where he netted two of Bafana's three goals in the group stages, van Heerden has joined Madibaz as their technical specialist coach.

"The Madibaz Football Club have scored a major coup by signing on former Bafana Bafana player Elrio van Heerden as their technical specialist coach," read a statement on the University's website.

"Although the 36-year-old midfielder has been assisting the Nelson Mandela University team in recent years he now has a specific role in the management team."

The Port Elizabeth-born former attacker will assist USSA team head coach Wayne Iveson, and has been seen as a great prospective coach, with Madibaz football manager Mark Tommy expressing his delght at the acquisition.

"Madibaz Football has a proud history of growing Port Elizabeth talent and investing in the next generation of quality local coaches," he said.

"Elrio is an international star, having left for Europe as an 18-year-old to play professionally and, since returning to South Africa, has been coaching young players in the city.

"He also assisted Madibaz to gain promotion to the A section at the 2018 USSA (University Sport South Africa) tournament.

"We are really excited to have secured his services and his work with the students has been amazing. The players look up to him as an international quality player and admire his work ethic and tactical astuteness."

Meanwhile, van Heerden, who is also a product of the UPE FC Copenhagen School of Excellence, is optimistic of helping the team secure qualification to next year's Varsity Football competition through the USSA qualifying tournament coming up in December.

"It's always good to come back to where you started and give something back to the young players of today, trying to help them reach new heights," said van Heerden.

"It's been a wonderful career for me and I have picked up the experience in professional soccer which I hope to pass on to the Madibaz players to help them achieve on the field.

"The quality is there and it's a matter of bringing out the best in the players and getting them to believe they can do it. As much as they want it, so do the other varsities, so it's the one who puts in the hard work and stays disciplined that will achieve in the end."