JOHANNESBURG – Ahead of a tournament that’s arguably every African footballer’s dream to reach, Percy Tau cut his usual relaxed figure at Steyn City School in Fourways, just before Bafana Bafana's second training session yesterday.
Having conquered Europe and Africa domestically, Tau will make his first appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations which will be held from June 21 - July 19 in Egypt.
He is fresh from his first overseas season where he played for Belgian second-tier team Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, on loan from English side Brighton & Hove Albion. Tau bagged the Proximus (Premiership) Footballer of the Season award.
Before that Tau inspired Mamelodi Sundowns to a record eighth Premiership title, while he claimed the Premiership Footballer of the Season award. That was a season after winning the Caf Champions League.
“I think it’s (the Afcon) huge for everybody. But luckily enough for me it comes at 25 years of age,” Tau said. “It will be my first time (in the tournament) and the other guys as well, so it’s good for the national team. We are able to go there and win it.”
In March, Tau produced a terrific display for Bafana after scoring both goals in their 2-1 win over Libya in the last round of Group E qualifiers, in a match they needed at least a draw to reach the Afcon finals in Egypt.
Since then the Tau brand multiplied. The former Sundowns marksman conquered the Belgian league, and scored in the classroom as he obtained his Bachelor of Commerce qualification.
“The brand will always be important for any sportsman in modern football, I think,” Tau said.
“There’s so much to achieve and to get out of football and life, and luckily enough I think I am on the right path because I haven’t suffered a lot of injuries. That puts me in the right position in order to grow and actually get better.”
South Africa will need Tau at his best if they are to make the knockout stage. Coach Stuart Baxter’s men are in Group D alongside Morocco, Namibia and Ivory Coast, who they meet in the opener on June 24.
Tau is banking on his Sundowns experience to produce a polished performance. “I’ve got to be prepared at Sundowns for such games and tight schedules,” Tau explained.@Mihlalibaleka