Others who were supposed to claim the talisman tag for Bafana but failed include Katlego Mphela, Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie. Eleazar Rodgers, Bradley Grobler, Thamsanqa Gabuza, and Kermit Erasmus.
Tau is the real deal. Here’s why: What makes Tau special is his ability to read the game, his speed, his confidence, his aggression, his finishing prowess. And then there is the fact that he loves high pressure situations. He has what you call big match temperament. Only the best players have it. Tau has it.
Tau doesn’t succumb to pressure, instead he blossoms in the heat of battle. He showed that against Libya with two wonderful strikes. The execution, running off the ball, anticipation and accuracy was what made the first goal special. The second goal was about positioning and decisiveness. Plus a special strike from an acute angle.
Against Nigeria in the first Afcon qualifier in 2017, Tau came off the bench to net the second goal which killed the spirit of the Super Eagles and ensured that the historical victory was in the bag for Bafana.
No so long ago, Tau rescued Bafana at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban against Paraguay in the Nelson Mandela Challenge. He combined with Thulani Serero to snatch the equaliser at the death for Bafana. They were on their way to a first loss against the South Americans but Tau did what he does best - get Bafana out of trouble.
Playing in the Caf Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns has also contributed significantly to the growth of Tau. His mental strength is top class. He doesn’t get easily intimidated. Let us not forget that he was colossal in the Sundowns team that went all the way in the Champions League in 2016.
I believe Tau is on his way to eclipse the likes of Benni McCarthy, Siyabonga Nomvethe, Sibusiso Zuma and Shaun Bartlett, who all made their names in top European leagues.
These men also represented the nation with distinction. McCarthy was a top scorer in the Afcon in Burkina Faso in 1998, and Bartlett walked away with the Golden Boot in 2000 in Nigeria and Ghana.
Nomvethe netted in Bafana’s first victory at the World Cup against Slovenia in Japan/Korea in 2002 while Zuma was key for Bafana when they qualified for the Afcon in Ghana in 2008.
To go back to BMT for a moment. A few weeks ago, Cristiano Ronaldo raised his hand and delivered a hat trick when Juventus required three unanswered goals to prevail in the last eight of the Uefa Champions League against Atletico Madrid. Last Sunday, Bafana desperately needed Tau to guide them to a place at Afcon. He stepped up with two goals and could so easily have had a hat trick (just like Ronaldo).
In the next few years, I have no doubt that Tau will be competing against the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the African Footballer of the Year gong. Roar, young lion, roar.
Tau is on nine goals in 18 matches for Bafana and if he can stay injury free, I have no doubt that he will break Benni’s record of 31 strikes. And I’m sure Benni will be the first to shake his hand.@minenhlecr7
Independent on Saturday