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Percy Tau and Bongani Zungu face quarantine on their return to Europe but happy to sacrifice for Bafana

24 March 2021 - 12:08 By Marc Strydom
Percy Tau and teammates during a Bafana Bafana training session at FNB Stadium on March 23 2021 in Johannesburg.
Percy Tau and teammates during a Bafana Bafana training session at FNB Stadium on March 23 2021 in Johannesburg.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Percy Tau has shown great commitment to Bafana Bafana by making the sacrifice of being willing to play in his national team’s huge Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan‚ but then needing to quarantine on his return to England.

Tau said he was glad that the negotiations for his availability in the decisive final two Group C matches against Ghana at FNB Stadium on Thursday and Sudan in Khartoum on Sunday were handled professionally by the Bafana team management and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Tau and Bongani Zungu‚ who could only be released by Rangers for the second game in Khartoum‚ have made the sacrifice that they will quarantine for 10 days on their return to the UK‚ making their current struggles for game time in the Scottish and English Premierships even harder.

Tau was grateful‚ too‚ that Brighton manager Graham Potter showed an understanding of the importance of the games against Ghana and Sudan. The player said Potter also saw the value in Tau getting game time for Bafana.

“I think the games are important — we are all aware of that. And I was grateful that the communications between Bafana and Brighton were successful‚ and they were able to allow me to come‚” Tau said at FNB Stadium on Tuesday‚ ahead of Bafana’s second training session before meeting Ghana.

“I know that from some teams it was difficult to allow the players to come over. But for me it was smooth‚ and they were able to reach an agreement‚ even though I have to go and quarantine for 10 days.”

Tau‚ since his recall from loan at Anderlecht in January‚ has had a step up to make to EPL level‚ and his struggles for game time were not unexpected at battling‚ 16th-placed Brighton.

He has played five league and cup matches‚ the last when he started Brighton’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Leicester City on February 10.

“It’s also an opportunity for me to get game time. But then it is also the importance of these last two games‚” the ex-Mamelodi Sundowns attacker said of Potter’s decision to release him.

“It is always great to have someone who’s understanding‚ and who tries to understand the needs of the player also.”

Tau’s own sacrifice should not be downplayed. In normal circumstances the commitment of European-based players returning home instead of remaining with their clubs to train in Fifa dates can cost them game time. The 10-day quarantine due to Covid-19 adds to such challenges.

“For me it’s always that I want to play — that’s the drive I have. And if I have an opportunity to fight for that position I’ll always do that‚” Tau said.

“And I also understand the importance of these games. It would be great for us to qualify for Afcon twice in a row.”

Tau is in a group of 10 players on three goals in the qualifiers‚ one behind leading scorer Victor Osimhen of Nigeria on four.

Ghana lead Group C on goal difference from Bafana (both nine points). Sudan (six points) are away Sao Tome and Principe (zero) on Wednesday night.