Erasmus has had his uissues with the national set-up in recent years but following his return to South Africa in January, to play for Cape Town City, he is regaining the form that first saw him break into the professional ranks as a 17-year-old.
Now 28, Erasmus is at a stage of his club career where he is expected to be the attacking leader and – despite his recent goalscoring – that played a role in Baxter backing only the three out-and-out strikers he has called up to do the job against Libya.
“To start with, the answer to the question ‘was he considered’? Yes absolutely,” Baxter told media on Monday.
“I had a very 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 them play against a Swedish team called Hacken, because I wanted to see some of the Cape Town players playing against international opposition and how would they cope with that.”
Baxter admitted that Erasmus showed the aptitude to cope with international football again, and add to his 14 caps.
“Kermit came in as a substitute and did exceptionally well for 20 minutes [against Hacken], so he showed that he does have that sort of international flavour to his game. So based on that, yes [he was considered]. Based on the fact that Kermit has not played a lot until, let’s say, the last four or five weeks, I think it’s probably reason to back off slightly.”
Ultimately, the decisive factor in why Erasmus wasn’t considered for the crunch qualifier against Libya is the need to balance expectation with squad dynamics.
“I did say to Benni that he has done a fantastic job with Kermit and one of the reasons I think he has done a fantastic job is that Kermit plays best when he is appreciated. Kermit has problems if he is on the periphery, because he feels like he is an important player and he is an important player. But maybe he does not deal with it too well if he is a squad player. Now he is feeling like he is the man at Cape Town and I did not 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.”
Bafana Bafana will play Libya on 24 March in Sfax, Tunisia, in their final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier – one which they need to at least draw to progress to the tournament in Egypt.
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