With three goals in two games in another international break, Percy Tau was the shining light for Bafana Bafana and – following 12 goals in 25 appearances – the Lion of Judah looks set to chase down Benni McCarthy’s record.
McCarthy is widely considered as one of the greatest talents South Africa has ever produced, having scored 31 international goals for the country, making him the highest scorer in side’s history.
Tau, however, is quickly chasing down the former Uefa Champions League winner having already netted 12 goals in his 25 games, and with his brace in the second game against San Tome, the former Sundowns man scored his seventh goal in Afcon qualifying. He overtook Benni McCarthy (six) and drew level with Phil Masinga in Afcon qualification for South Africa, and is now just one goal behind Sibusiso Zuma’s national team record.
The 26-year-old has been in Europe for the past two years where his development has continued, and despite not getting the chance to turn out for parent club Brighton and Hove Albion in the English Premier League, he has been impressive on loan in Belgium and played in the Uefa Champions League against the likes of Real Madrid – the sort of experience which can only inspire a player.
Tau, in the meantime, has arguably developed into one of Bafana’s most important players while he awaits the chance to prove himself on a bigger stage.
Speaking in Durban after his man-of-the-match performance against Sao Tome and Principe on Friday night, Tau responded to questions about talk of him moving back to the Premier League in January.
‘I’m not aware, I’m not aware,’ he laughed. ‘I think I’ve been doing well, I’ve been trying my best every time.
‘For sure, I’ve been on loan for three years. I think there’s been progress in my game. I went to Brugge and won the league, so I don’t see issues with that.
‘I’ve always said there have been issues that were forcing me out, it was never about talent or belief, so we will have to see when it does happen. But I have to keep on working hard.’
That hard-working mentality is one of the factors which sets Tau apart. In a country where professional footballers are tempted by many negative external forces, Tau has managed to remain ‘clean’ to focus on his football and not allowing anything to distract him.
That’s why, for me, it is not a matter of if but when the 26-year-old will break McCarthy’s record, as he is destined to become a Bafana great.
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