Bafana Bafana striker Percy Tau maintains that a starting team that was dominated by locally based players acquainted itself well in the 1-1 draw against Ghana on Thursday.
The Brighton & Hove Albion attacker and Israel-based Siyanda Xulu were the only two players based abroad that started in coach Molefi Ntseki first XI against the Black Stars at FNB Stadium.
This after four of nine overseas-based players – Bongani Zungu, Keagan Dolly, Dean Furman and Thulani Serero – were refused permission by their respective clubs to join the Bafana camp.
Tau scored the 52nd minute equaliser that rescued a point for Bafana after Mohammed Kudus had netted for the visitors three minutes earlier.
“We have a few players who were not there before but we tried our best. It is difficult when we don’t have other guys because of the Covid-19 pandemic but it’s still football. It shows that our [local] league is good.
“We just have to come together even though we have little time to work together in the national team,” Tau told the media after the match. “I am proud of the group and they did everything they could [even though] we played a different system. We hope people understand that we try and win games. We can only get better.”
Tau finished off from a well-calculated pass from debutant, Swallows striker Ruzaigh Gamildien, to cancel out Kudu’s 49th minute goal.
“I think it’s a fair result as much as we would have loved to win the game. They scored first and we had to react to that but we could not get the second goal. I will take it going into the next game,” said Tau, who will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine before he rejoins his team-mates at Brighton.
More like the previous Afcon qualifying campaign, South African are again pinning their hopes to qualify on the final match. “It might not be convincing to other people but I think we played well [against Ghana]. We are in a difficult group and other teams are also finding it difficult. But then we are looking forward to the next game,” said Tau, who has scored four goals in the qualifiers so far.
Bafana play their next game on Sunday in front of 1 000 Sudanese fans after CAF approved spectators in line with the Covid-19 regulations in the country.
“I would love to play in front of the fans again but it will be a difficult one,” said Tau.
Reflecting on the journey so far, Ntseki said: “I think with all the challenges since I took over – the xenophobia attacks, the Covid-19 [pandemic] and the players being refused [permission] to join us in camp – it has made us very strong. It has made the team believe in every one of us.
“If things continue going on like this, it means we are going to qualify and qualification will be a big celebration for all of us. The players and everybody want to better the position we had in the last Afcon.
“Now that we are to play the Afcon and the World Cup qualifiers, the cohesion in the team will grow, the understanding and the brotherhood will definitely be better and the love in the team will improve. The relationship we have established in the team is that of true South Africans who support each other – whether they support the team, the technical team or the players. I think we are in the right direction.”