Marc van Heerden - Fact File

AmaZulu Stalwart Promises A Top Four Finish

AmaZulu left back Marc van Heerden has been in scintillating form for the KZN-based club and his good performances last year earned him a Bafana Bafana call-up.

In this interview with Sabie Chili, van Heerden reflects on his first task of international football before talking about the team `s good run and what they`re aiming for this half of the season.

Personal Information
Full names: Marc van Heerden
Nicknames: Sdumo
Date of birth: 16 March 1988
Place of birth: Alberton, Gauteng

Position: Defender
Jersey no: 8

Club: AmaZulu FC
Previous clubs:
Supersport United juniors
University of Pretoria juniors and reserve team
University of Pretoria
Honours: 2010 Nedbank Cup runner-up, two Bafana Bafana caps.

Your good performances for AmaZulu earned you your Bafana Bafana debut against Burkina Faso but, before we talk about that game, were you surprised by the call-up? 
Look, I was expecting a Bafana call–up, like any other local player, but I didn`t expect it to come as soon as it did. Obviously I have been doing well and the hard work is now paying off, but I think the call-up came earlier than I expected this season. Having said that, it was  a really good surprise.

But it is not like you only just started playing well for Usuthu. You have been one of their best players for seasons now, surely you`d have expected to be called up long ago, unless you lack confidence in your ability?
That`s true, hey, but it had nothing to do with lack of confidence. It`s been really tough because I also had a few injuries along the way, while the likes of Tsepo Masilela and Thabo Matlaba were doing extremely well for the national team in the left back position. They have also been playing regularly for their teams, while I spent a lot of time on the sidelines due to injuries. So I thought it would take five or six games in the new season before I would receive a call-up.

Now that you have tasted international football, where do you see yourself in the pecking order for the left back position?
It boils down to working hard at club level, staying injury-free and taking it from there. Given a chance, I will always grab it. It is an honour to wear that jersey, sing the national anthem, and then play in a game in which you represent millions of South Africans. Nothing beats that feeling. To answer your question, I know for a fact that if I play regularly for my team  and perform consistently well, I will have a good chance of receiving more call-ups.

Moving on to club matters, Usuthu have been inconsistent this season, where does the problem lie?
Yeah, look, I think it was a matter of bad decision-making and mistakes that led to us conceding goals we shouldn`t have. The coach Craig Roslee has attended to a few of those matters and it`s working much better for us at the moment.

What`s Craig Roslee doing differently to previous coaches, if the team`s form so far this season is anything to go by?
He works a lot on our tactical play, passing drills, technique and how he wants to play. We also do a lot of analysis of our opposition and go into the games with more insight and readiness. He, however, focuses more on us than the opposition, which is key. I must also mention that the guy puts in a lot of hard work at training.

What can the Usuthu faithful expect from the team this time around?
Like everyone else, we want to win the league this season or at least finish top four, we will turn the corner. We want to get some silverware and our supporters can definitely look forward to it. Everyone here is aspiring to get a medal and we are working hard to achieve that.

Talking about the supporters, can you really understand the supporters` reasoning behind booing or throwing missiles at their own players?
My man, you will never please all the supporters, no matter what you do. What they want is results, immediate results. Sometimes they just need to be patient and not expect miracles but, having said that, the supporters are always right. They can never be wrong because some of them use their last money to come and watch us.

We have heard a lot of stories about AmaZulu players ill-discipline over the past two seasons or so, with boozing cited as one of the main problems, resulting in some players being released from the club.
Look, there will always be situations in every team where you get players misbehaving, but I think with the bunch of guys we`ve got, that`s not a problem anymore. We have a good, hard-working bunch of players this season and the attitude is very good and we are looking sharp. So disciplinary problems are a thing of the past.

Anything you`d like to add to this interview before we let you go?
AmaZulu will be a force to be reckoned with this season and people must not underestimate us anymore otherwise they will be surprised. Like I said we are going for the top four and winning the league this season.

Marc, thank you for your time and all the best for your future.
Thanks man.