Percy Tau has explained why Bafana Bafana chose to play ‘long balls’ during their Africa Cup Of Nations qualifier against Nigeria.
The South African national team hosted the Super Eagles at the FNB Stadium on Saturday in the AFCON qualifiers, with the two sides playing to a 1-1 draw.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Stuart Baxter was questioned regarding the team’s decision to play long balls, however, Tau explained that the team made the decision on their own, without the head coach, to switch up the style of play.
“(There were) five defenders and two central midfielders that were in front of the five, so it was difficult for us to get those pockets and then we felt they were tired because of the heat and the right centre-back was injured so we felt that we could get behind them and score and it didn’t work out,” Tau said in a press conference after the game.
However, Baxter didn’t seem too concerned that the players were making decisions by themselves, with indications that the head coach may be giving them the freedom to properly assess a situation and make changes to their style of play where necessary.
“To have a game plan and when it’s working, stick at it and if it doesn’t go too well, stick at it, but I think it was disappointing because we tried to get the information on to the field and when we did it, we succeeded again and for me it’s just maybe we locked ourselves into one side.
“We didn’t open the field up because once you open the field up, then you can start playing those nice combinations.
“And what happens, you get under more and more pressure so you just throw it over the top because you don’t want to lose the ball, and I was going quite frantic trying to get that information to the players, ‘open the field’, South African players are better when we open spaces.”
“But like Percy said, “it may work because they’re tired”, whatever I think it’s a lesson there, for that we have to stick to what we (good at) because that brings the best out of our players,” Baxter added.