Percy Tau reaping benefits of his move to Europe‚ says Bafana coach Baxter

27 March 2019 - 12:06 By Sazi Hadebe
Stuart Baxter (coach) of Bafana Bafana during the Bafana Bafana and U23 Squad Announcement at SAFA House, Conference Room on March 11, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Stuart Baxter (coach) of Bafana Bafana during the Bafana Bafana and U23 Squad Announcement at SAFA House, Conference Room on March 11, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Percy Tau has reaped massive benefits from his move to Belgium and Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter believes that it's only a matter of time before he graduates to a top European league.

Tau joined Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise on a season-long loan deal from English club Brighton & Hove Albion in August last year shortly after transferring from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Baxter raved about the striker after he scored two vital goals in Bafana's 2-1 victory over Libya in Sfax‚ Tunisia‚ at the weekend that ensured qualification to the Africa Nations Cup to be played in Egypt in June.

“I think it’s easy to get intoxicated by the one who scores the goals but that’s just the fact‚” said Baxter of Tau’s development since he went to Europe at the start of the current season.

“I think he needs to make another step (move to a top league in Europe) and I think he will do it.”

Baxter said the 24-year-old Tau is set to become a key member of Bafana for a very long time.

“We need to look at the development of Percy and I think Percy is going to be an important player for South Africa for a long time‚" he said.

“I think he has got better since he got to Belgium."

Tau underlined his value in the Bafana camp with the two goals that saw saw him finish as a top scorer with four strikes in the Afcon qualifiers.

Tau has scored nine goals in total after 18 outings and he featured in all the qualifying matches from the first game against Nigeria in Oyo in June 2017‚ where he scored his first goal of the qualifiers in a 2-0 win over the Super Eagles.

"I think he’s got to find his role now in the national team which is being developed‚” said Baxter.

“In the first half (against Libya) Percy was not clear in his own mind.

"He was getting the ball and he was looking to do a lot of things and not really deciding to do anything.

“We wanted Percy to be a bit sharper and let other people come into the game and make a quicker decision.

“We spoke to him (at halftime) about shouting around the defenders because that’s something that we’ve identified from the World Cup (2018).

“There was a trend that when people defend deep and there’s a lot of bodies‚ you can just shoot around the defenders and then the goalkeeper gets unsighted.

“So we just asked Percy at halftime to 'just make sure you make quicker decisions and if you get your strike away and if you miss the target that’s okay. But get your strikes away and don’t be in two minds’.

“I think he was twice in the first half when we were in good positions.

"I thought we played better‚ we opened the field better and we got the ball into Percy and Lebo. And Lebo was an absolute monster to play against.

“Lebo did that thankless job and we could get Percy in the next phase.”

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