Percy Tau is challenged for possession by Max Gradel of the Ivory Coast on Monday. Photo: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Percy Tau insists that the physicality of Ivory Coast was not the reason why Bafana Bafana battled to trouble their opponents in the 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations defeat in Cairo on Monday.

The South Africans appeared to be bullied at times by the bigger Ivorians, who even used a few off-the-ball shoves to make their presence felt.

Their defence stood strong as well, and Bafana’s front-line hardly found an opening on attack.

The man tasked with unlocking defences and scoring goals was former Mamelodi Sundowns star Tau, who was the Player of the Season in the Belgian second division, where he was on loan from Brighton to Royal Union Saint-Gilloise.

But things just didn’t come off for the South Africans, as a lack of supply from midfield and the tight marking from the Ivory Coast defence largely nullified Tau.

“I was just not in the match, much as I would have wanted, and I don’t think they were too physical to influence my game because that is what we expected. The imposing figures didn’t play a role at all. We just didn’t play to our full potential,” the 25-year-old said.

“If we had gotten our plans right, it was going to be a different ball-game altogether.”

Tau agrees that Bafana lacked a spark when they had possession, and need to find their rhythm in their second Afcon clash against Namibia at the same Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Friday night (10pm SA time kickoff).

“If we got our touches in attack, it could have been better, but we could not do that. We could not get into the game; this was our first game, and I think we will improve in the second game. There will be lots of improvement for the team, and myself also,” he said.

“We are excited to play against Namibia, much as they always love to play against us.

“We are really looking forward to the match, play our own game, and see what we need to do in the attack and to defend better as a team.

“It will be a nice challenge to play against Namibia. The match against Namibia definitely becomes a must-win now, and we must not even think of Morocco (next Monday).”

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