Johannesburg — The return of talisman Percy Tau to the starting line-up and scoresheet for Egyptian giants Al Ahly augurs well for Bafana Bafana coach Hugo Broos.
On Wednesday night Tau got his first goal for the Red Devils this season as they beat Ghazl El Mahalla 2-0 in the Egyptian Premier League (EPL).
This pleased South African football fans and the beleaguered senior men’s national team’s commander in chief.
In the last few months, Broos has been forced to play without his vice-captain due to matters beyond his control as Bafana endured a mixed bag of results.
Without Tau, Bafana were winless in four games, before they recently won three and drew one as they prepared for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
But with Tau enjoying his football again, the 71-year-old Belgian coach will be betting on the ‘Lion of Judah’ to roar for Bafana against Liberia.
Bafana will meet Liberia in back-to-back Afcon qualifiers in March knowing that full points from those ties will guarantee them passage to Afcon.
Speaking at their last camp last month, Broos said he was worried about Tau’s situation, even suggesting it would be better if he secured a new club.
“I hope Percy starts playing games regularly again. And if that is not possible, I think it is better for him to start looking for another club,” Broos explained.
“In the past year, he picked up injuries and played few matches. Since the end of June, he has played only 22 minutes and that is not good for him at all.
“A player loses the rhythm of the game by sitting on the bench. And Tau is not the kind of player who must sit on the bench, but that is the situation now.”
Since the departure of Pitso Mosimane from Al Ahly earlier this year, Tau had been lost to the wilderness.
He battled to feature in the side under Mosimane’s successor Ricardo Soares, while he battled with injuries as they, again, lost out on the title to Zamalek.
Enter Marcel Koller. The 28-year-old South African has been working hard at training in pre-season as the Swiss-born coach retained him for the season.
Due to a lack of match-fitness, Koller used Tau sparingly in the first four games of the season before he was finally given his first start on Wednesday night.
And Tau grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He scored with a lovely close-range effort in the 17th minute as they went on to win 2-0.
That victory took the African Club of the Century to the summit of the log standings as their 100% winning streak in the league continued.
In the bigger scheme of things, that was Koller’s ninth win in as many games since taking over the reins from Soares.
Locals and Broos will want Tau’s progress to continue though as two wins in the Afcon qualifiers will secure their tickets to the 2023 finals in Côte d’Ivoire.