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Tau impresses

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Nigeria coach full of praise for outstanding Tau

MERCURIAL: Percy Tau of South Africa is challenged by Iwobi Alexander Chuka of Nigeria during their 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifier at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Picture: Samuel Shivambu BackpagePix

ASKED which Bafana Bafana players stood out for him in Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier that ended in a 1-1 stalemate, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr singled out Percy Tau.

That obviously had a lot to do with the striker twisting and turning three Super Eagles defenders to set up Lebo Mothiba for South Africa’s equaliser in the first half. But Tau also had plenty more moments of brilliance and was voted Man of the Match.

“Congratulations to this player Percy Tau. I hope to see him in a big team in Europe – in England or the championship. He is a really good player, a wonderful player,” said Rohr, who also took a few moments to convey the same message to Tau shortly after his post match press conference.

Meanwhile, Bafana’s final Afcon group qualifier against Libya in March next year will be like a knife to the throat, coach Stuart Baxter has said.

The Scotsman was reacting to the national team’s draw at home against Nigeria, for whom that single point was enough for them to book their place at the continental tournament in Cameroon, on Saturday.

South Africa now need to avoid defeat against Libya to join the Super Eagles as the runners-up from Group E.

“I think we have got to have a clear game plan,” said Baxter after Bafana had come from behind to draw 1-1 with Nigeria at FNB Stadium.

“We’ve got to be brave and go do the job. I think the players have shown in every other game, apart from the Seychelles game away, that they can go there and win. It will be a knife to the throat job, but those are the games that you want to play. The game against Nigeria was cutting edge, and I think it is a shame that we are not talking about going to Libya and having the belief that we can get the job done on the back of a performance like this one.”

Bafana, currently in second place on nine points while Libya are hot on their heels with eight, were outstanding in patches against a Nigeria team that looked to be playing for a draw – five defenders and one striker – having only arrived on Thursday morning and Rohr bemoaning their far from ideal preparation away to a side that shocked them with a 2-0 victory in the opening group fixture back in June last year.

It’s the dropped points against Libya in Durban two months ago and Seychelles in Victoria four weeks ago that have come back to haunt Baxter’s men, who did not want to leave it to the last match to confirm their qualification.

“We are well aware of the minefield that we are going into when we go to Libya,” the coach said.

“But I hope we deal with that. We can go there and get a result the same way we did against Nigeria. I am certainly looking forward to it. You heard the Nigeria coach say the pitch in Libya is an anomaly – you need to score on that pitch to bring them out otherwise it ends up like we had it.

“And we didn’t score that goal to bring them out and they stuck at it and kept kicking the ball everywhere, going down injured and the referee didn’t help us.”

Libya, meanwhile, thrashed Seychelles 8-1 on Saturday afternoon on that very same pitch.