Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has revealed some details of a conversation he had with Brighton and Hove Albion manager Chris Houghton, regarding Percy Tau, who is in the Premier League’s spirit’s books.
The 24-year-old made a big-money move from Mamelodi Sundowns to the Seagulls at the start of the 2018/19 season, and was almost immediately shipped off to the Belgian second division, with work permit issues preventing him from playing in England’s top flight.
His future in Europe remains uncertain, but that has not deterred him for putting on a string of impressive performances for both club and country, raising interest from Houghton, who got in touch with the Bafana mentor for some inside info with the player.
In a recent chat to Soccer Laduma, Baxter shed some light on what his countryman needed to know about Tau, who may yet feature in the relegation-threatened Sussex outfit in the near future.
“When Chris Houghton called me and asked about Percy Tau, he asked if he works hard enough and if he is strong enough. And I said ‘he played against (Senegal’s) Kalidou Koulibaly and didn’t get knocked around.
“I said if you look at the Burkina Faso centre backs they are almost two meters and are about 150 kilos, both of them. And yet Percy was in and out of them and they couldn’t catch him. So rather than wrap him in cotton wool and say we don’t want them to target him, well go on and target him.”
Stuart Baxter, Bafana Bafana coach
Tau starred for Bafana in their successful Afcon 2019 qualifying campaign, scoring against each of their Group E opponents to finish with four goals – including a brace against Libya in the 2-1 victory which booked South Africa a spot in Egypt in June.
He is expected to be a key player as Bafana battle it out with Ivory Coast, Morocco and Namibia in a tough Group B in the continental showpiece.