Orlando Pirates have again impressed on the continental stage by reaching the finals of CAF Confederations Cup. Pivotal to the side’s early season success is striker Kermit Erasmus. The former Supersport United forward sat down with The Football Report to discuss CAF Confederations Cup success, Domestic League form, competition for places at the club as well as his future with the national team.
TFR: THIS SEASON HAS SEEN YOU PUT IN SOME OF YOUR BEST PERFORMANCES DO YOU THINK YOU’VE FINALLY SETTLED IN AT THE CLUB?
KE: Yes, definitely! The thing about making move from Supersport to a club the size of Pirates there has to be an adjustment period. The fan base alone took some adjusting to. I am now a lot more comfortable playing in front of them, and I think they now appreciate me and what I can do a lot more. So I must say that I am a lot more confident in the jersey.
TFR: THE COMPETITION FOR PLACES UP FRONT IS PROBABLY THE CLOSEST IT HAS BEEN SINCE JOINING THE PIRATES. DO YOU AGREE?
KE: Yeah that is true. The competition for places is very tight at the moment but it’s healthy competition. I always welcome competition because that’s what helps you improve as a player. It also benefits the team to have players pushing each other in every position.
TFR: WHERE DO YOU PREFER PLAYING? LEADING THE LINE, OR PLAYING OFF A TARGET MAN?
KE: In all honesty I think leading the line is where my strength lies. It allows me the freedom to move around in the final third. I think that leading the line is what works for my abilities.
TFR: IF THERE IS A CRITICISM OF THE STRIKERS AT PIRATES IS THAT FOR THE QUALITY THAT YOU HAVE, YOU DON’T SCORE ENOUGH GOALS WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON THAT?
KE: It’s tough being a striker in the PSL. I don’t think people understand how tough it is. Especially if you play for a club of this stature. Teams look to stifle you. It’s not like in the EPL, where if you watch a Swansea against Manchester United game, you see the smaller team like Swansea attack United and make a game of it. Here at home a lot of teams play not to lose and I think that takes away from the quality of PSL. That’s why I think we struggle to fill up the stadiums, because teams look to stifle each other and that kills the attacking momentum of teams and the strikers suffer the most and you get the situation we have right now of not scoring enough goals. We have to remember that football is entertainment. The EPL teams get it and that’s why their stadiums are full no matter who is playing, but here at home you’d struggle to get people to watch Polokwane City against Supersport United for example.
TFR: WHY CAN’T PIRATES REPLICATE THEIR CAF CONFED CUP FORM IN THE DOMESTIC LEAGUE?
KE: That’s a good question. It’s something that bothers us as well as players, and we have thought a lot about it. The best answer I can give is that, on some level we feel the pressure to work a little harder in the Confed Cup because we do know that it’s a tournament, whereas the PSL is more of a marathon and there is a lot more time to catch up when we have some hiccups. I do think that we have that in the back of our minds.
TFR: ON SOME LEVEL IS EASIER TO PLAY AWAY FROM HOME? ESPECIALLY REGARDING THE PRESSURE.
KE: I do think it is on some level. Every time we get on the field here at home we’re expected to win. So there is less pressure on the road. It also helps that on most of trips the local teams are not intimidated by us, and as result they come at us, therefore the games are a lot more open. Also the team spirit in the camp is fantastic, so when we go out there we are united and willing to give everything for each other.
TFR: HAVE THE RECENT DISAPPOINMENTS IN THE CAF COMPETITIONS BECOME EXTRA MOTIVATION FOR THIS FINAL?
KE: Definitely. But, I feel the greatest motivation for us is to make history for this generation it us our chance to make a mark for this great club and for it’s supporters. That’s what is really driving us.
TFR: PERSONALLY, DO YOU THINK YOUR CURRENT FORM WILL HELP YOU FINALLY ESTABLISH YOUR PLACE IN THE NATIONAL TEAM?
KE: I hope so. I’m always available for my country, and can’t wait to get another call-up and show what I can do. Of course I have been frustrated at being overlooked in the past, but I can’t wait to be in the team again. I’m ready.