JOHANNESBURG - Pitso Mosimane is setting the bar too high for his Mamelodi Sundowns talisman Percy Tau by asking that he ignore offers from Belgium, Denmark and even Russia.
In a wide ranging interview last week as the Brazilians celebrated their eighth Premier League title - the third in Mosimane’s time at Chloorkop - the coach told journalist the only move abroad that would make sense for his chart-topping goalscorer Tau would be in the top tier in France, Spain, Germany, England and Italy.
There’s no doubt in my mind that, given the chance, the 23-year-old would excel in these top leagues, but not since the days of Benni McCarthy, Aaron Mokoena, Steve Pienaar and Kagisho Dikgacoi as well as those in the generation before theirs has South Africa been able to export players that shoot straight into those big federations.
France has recently become an exception, with Keagan Dolly, Bongani Zungu, Lebogang Phiri and Lebo Mothiba. But Phiri had to start in Denmark, although he was only 18 when he moved from South Africa to Brondby.
Tau is running out of time and could make the long list of Bafana Bafana players who waited a season or two too long to look for a new challenge in Europe.
Mosimane does have a point when he argues that Belgium, Denmark and Russia are the breeding ground for some on the world’s top leagues.
He would have no qualms with allowing Tau to join a team there if he was five years younger, the coach explained.
However, this pre-empts a scenario where the club and the players’ representatives may not be on the same page with regards to what is best for Tau.
Mosimane has already suggested that he doesn’t think the player is ready and that he is still under contract, so he “won’t go now.” I am afraid that’s a problem for me.
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‘Jingles’ doesn’t often get it wrong, but several years ago he tried all he could to keep Bongani Zungu at Sundowns for one more year when there was a lucrative offer from Portuguese outfit Vitoria Guimaraes.
Guess what? Zungu was 23, and he is a perfect case study now having used his opportunity in just a single season to move to the Ligue 1 in France, where he has already caught the eye of top European scouts.
Few would disagree with the following statement: Tau has something special and could very well surpass what Zungu has achieved if he just gets an opportunity to explore Europe - be it in Belgium, Denmark or Russia.
In just two years there, or even in Portugal for that matter, the possibilities could be endless for a player with his talent, work rate and potential.
I know the coach often knows best, but for Tau’s development, Mosimane might want to rethink his opinion on which leagues are suitable for his top goal scorer.
A player such as Khama Billiat, who is also on his way out of Chloorkop having refused to sign a contract extension, perhaps moving to those league when he is about to turn 28 should be all about cashing in on a brief career and not hoping to still catch the eye of a Chelsea or a Real Madrid for instance (even if this is an exaggeration).
But that should be Tau’s playing field in the hope for something far greater, I have no doubts about that. But what do I know?