Bafana Bafana’s AFCON hopes could rest with Percy Tau. The young lion is unfazed by the daunting task of carrying the dreams of millions because what the 24-year-old lacks in size, he makes up for it in heart and fighting spirit.
Bafana Bafana’s hopes of going to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations may rest on the shoulders of the pint-sized Percy Tau.
Stuart Baxter and the rest of South Africa will look to Tau for inspiration tonight in Bafana’s last Afcon qualifier against Libya in Sfax, Tunisia. Bafana needs at least a draw to book a ticket for the continental showpiece that will be played in Egypt from June 21-July 19.
Tau is a man reborn since relocating to Belgium to play for Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the second division since he couldn’t get a work permit to play in England for his parent club Brighton Hove & Albion.
It’s as if Tau is playing to prove a point to the English bureaucrats who deemed him not good enough to play in the English Premier League due to Bafana’s poor world rankings and him not playing enough for the senior national team.
But his exploits have impressed an England legend, Ian Wright.
“You can’t tell me Percy cannot play at Brighton & Hove Albion. He’s good, brilliant. (He is) a good footballer, man. You have to judge people on their abilities,” Wright told South African journalists in London, who were there with MultiChoice Diski Challenge winners Bloemfontein Celtic.
Tau brushed aside that rejection to star in Belgium. He has to help Bafana go to Afcon because the more game he plays, the closer he’ll get to meeting the requirements to earn an English work permit.
The Afcon, with European scouts in attendance, will be a perfect showpiece for Tau to not only get more matches but prove that he belongs in the upper echelons of English football instead of slumming it in the lower tiers of Belgium.
But for him to do that, he has to drag Bafana to the Afcon by getting past the Mediterranean Knights.
Libya will closely watch the former Mamelodi Sundowns forward. “I never put pressure on myself,” Tau said. “I never think that there’s pressure on me to lead the team because there are 11 guys on the field. I am just always on the lucky side, but I have to finish the goals.
“Everyone has a role to play and we are excited that we have been handed those roles. We just roll with that. That’s all.”
Tau and France-based forward, Lebo Mothiba, will lead Bafana’s attack tonight. Baxter will not sit back even though Bafana need just a point while Libya need a win.
Bafana will take the match to the Libyans with the aim of unsettling them and taking control of the contest from the onset.
The partnership of Tau and Mothiba looked devastating against Nigeria in their last qualifier. Mothiba brings physique, aerial strength and an eye for goal while Tau comes with his magic.
Tau hypnotised the Super Eagles’ defenders before setting up Mothiba to find the back of the net at FNB Stadium. More of that will see them easily brush aside the Libyans.
“There’s no pressure when it’s a team effort,” Tau said.