Baxter almost called time on goal hero Tau

Percy Tau came to the South Africa's rescue again with a dramatic last-gasp equaliser as Bafana Bafana shared the Nelson Mandela Challenge trophy with Paraguay.
Percy Tau came to the South Africa's rescue again with a dramatic last-gasp equaliser as Bafana Bafana shared the Nelson Mandela Challenge trophy with Paraguay.
Image: PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP
“I was going to take him off when we put on [Thulani] Serero‚ but I thought Percy was our main threat."-
Stuart Baxter

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was planning to take goal hero Percy Tau off before the end of Tuesday’s international against Paraguay in Durban, but fortunately changed his mind to allow the Belgian based striker to come to the country’s rescue again.

Tau delivered another man of-the-match performance with a last-gasp goal for a youthful Bafana outfit against their South American rivals and allowed them to share the spoils in the Nelson Mandela Challenge match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

“I was going to take him off when we put on [Thulani] Serero‚ but I thought Percy was our main threat,” Baxter said.

Serero combined with Tau to set him clear of the offside trap and allow him to finish with virtually the last kick of the game after Paraguay had lead from the 31st minute.

Tau also set up the equaliser for Bafana in Saturday’s African Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria.

Baxter kept just four players from Saturday in Tuesday’s starting lineup as he took a gamble on the ability of many inexperienced players.

He had planned to make more changes at halftime.

“I wasn’t going to leave Tyson [Thulani Hlatshwayo] on‚ I was going to let him and Buhle [Mkhwanazi] share the game‚ but after Ace [Motjeka Madisha] made the mistake [for the goal] and the crowd got on his back‚ and then made another mistake‚ I didn’t think it was fair to leave him on.

“For some of our younger players this was a learning curve and they needed to adapt quickly.

“I picked a lot of the young boys and, if we had lost‚ I am sure you guys would have been at my throat‚ but the truth is they need to play against teams like this to learn.

“We gave away a very poor goal against Paraguay‚ but we kept going and in both games we got back to 1-1. We need that sort of spirit.”

Meanwhile, Baxter said it was vital his team got some preparations in before they take on Libya in their vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

But the Briton admitted there was little chance of organizing a training camp or a friendly match outside of the window for international matches.

Fifa rules do not require clubs to release players until the next international window‚ which was from March 18-27.

The game against Libya will likely be played on March 21 or March 22, with SA needing to avoid defeat if they are to qualify for the finals.

If Libya win, they will go to the tournament instead of Bafana. “The fact that there is three months to the game means we will have to be active between now and then because we are going to get some of our six or seven players back from injury,” Baxter said.

“Those [players] will need to be reintegrated into the team.”

But he admitted later that would be difficult.

Premier Soccer League clubs have a packed programme this season and would likely turn down any request to release players for mini-training camps, or even Bafana training sessions, outside of the international window.

Baxter is heading to London and France on Thursday to meet players and their clubs.

The main focus of his trip is to meet coaching staff at Racing Strasbourg in France where Lebo Mothiba has made a strong impact this season.

The idea is to build a better relationship that might allow Mothiba to be released outside of the window if South Africa required him.

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