Stuart Baxter has laid down a marker for Bafana Bafana striker Percy Tau, who is expected to very much be the national team’s talisman at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in two month’s time.
The coach said it is possible the Brighton & Hove Albion loanee will have a target on his back at the tournament when Bafana take on Ivory Coast, Namibia and Morocco in Group D.
“Big players win big games. You can’t protect people by wrapping them up in cotton wool,” Baxter said of Tau, who has been rested recently by his Belgian club Union SG to nurse a niggling injury.
“The easy way is not a good teacher, and Percy has got to where he is by working hard and taking some knocks. When Chris Houghton (Brighton manager) 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 (Napoli) 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.”
Tau, should he stay injury free, will lead the line alongside Lebo Mothiba in what will be an AFCON debut for both players.