Bafana Bafana players Percy Tau (L) and Aubrey Modiba (R) take part in a training session at Steyn City School in Fourways, north of Johannesburg. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX / SAMUEL SHIVAMBU
Bafana Bafana players Percy Tau (L) and Aubrey Modiba (R) take part in a training session at Steyn City School in Fourways, north of Johannesburg. Picture: BACKPAGEPIX / SAMUEL SHIVAMBU

The sight of Percy Tau in a leg brace this week will have sent shivers down the spine of many Bafana Bafana fans as he will be a key component in the side heading to the Africa Cup of Nations  (Afcon) finals in Egypt in June.

Tau suffered what was in many ways a freak accident while playing for Belgian second-tier side Royal Union St Gilloise 10 days ago when an opponent fell on top of him‚ jarring his knee.

The Bafana star played on for a while but was replaced at halftime‚ after scoring two goals‚ and was almost immediately ruled out for the rest of the season by coach Luka Elsner.

At the time it was thought there could be ligament damage‚ which would have meant months on the sidelines‚ but it appears the injury is not as bad as first feared.

It is understood the brace is more of a precaution to stop the knee joint moving‚ but that Tau has bruising on the bone‚ an injury that is difficult to quantify.

The healing period is different for each individual and while Tau still faces some weeks out‚ he could well be fit for the Nations Cup.

But the flip side is that this type of injury can also take a month or more to properly heal and that would leave Tau in major doubt for the tournament or‚ perhaps worse‚ Bafana carrying an injured player.

Tau has had a superb season in Belgium with 13 goals and as many assists‚ and was named as the second tier’s player of the season.

He will be hoping he can return to mother club Brighton & Hove Albion in the next English Premier League season‚ but that depends on a work permit he will almost certainly not get if he does not appear at the Nations Cup.

He may fail in that regard in any event‚ in which case the finals in Egypt could be the perfect platform to catch the eye of other clubs in Europe.

It could be a vital tournament for his prospects‚ and those of Bafana‚ which means the next few weeks will be crucial for him.