JOHANNESBURG – Percy Tau will again be a key man for Bafana Bafana when they look to progress past the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt starting next week.
Despite being small in frame, the Belgium-based striker was influential in South Africa’s qualification for the biennial, continental showpiece against teams made up of physically strong defenders.
Coach Stuart Baxter struggled to use Tau at first, and even ignored him before the former SA Footballer of the Year forced his way into the side with his performances.
“Percy has got to where he is by working hard and taking some of the knocks,” Baxter said after the Afcon draw.
“When (former Brighton & Hove Albion manager) Chris Hughton called to ask me is he strong enough, I said to him he played against (Kalidou) Koulibaly and didn’t get knocked around.
“I said if you look at the Burkina Faso centre-backs they are almost 2m and 150 kilos yet Percy was in and out of them and they couldn’t catch him. He had to go through that and Koulibaly did try and knock him out. The two centre-backs did. So he got through that.”
Tau’s resilience and character helped him get the better of towering defenders. Bafana played to his strength and that’s how they have been able to get the best out of him.