Percy Tau, No 10, celebrates his goal on Friday with Lebo Many ama, No 9, and Themba Zwane.Picture: STEVE HAAG/BACKPAGEPIX
Percy Tau, No 10, celebrates his goal on Friday with Lebo Many ama, No 9, and Themba Zwane.Picture: STEVE HAAG/BACKPAGEPIX

Percy Tau has shown great commitment to Bafana Bafana by making the sacrifice of being willing to play in SA’s important Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan — and then having to go into quarantine on his return to England.

Tau said he was glad 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 & Hove Albion, his team in England.

Tau and Bongani Zungu‚ who could only be released by Glasgow 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 understood  the importance of the games against Ghana and Sudan. Potter saw value in him getting game time for Bafana, he said.

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

“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 quarantine for 10 days.”

Since being recalled in January from Anderlecht, where he was on loan, Tau has had to step up his game to the level of the English Premier League, so his struggles for game time were not unexpected at battling Brighton, in 16th place on the log.

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 former Mamelodi Sundowns attacker said of Potter’s decision to release him.

“It is always great to have someone who is 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 can cost them game time. The 10-day quarantine due to Covid-19 adds to these 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. “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.

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