Bafana Bafana forward Percy Tau said it has been lovely to see the likes of Khanya Leshabela and Kgaogelo Chauke getting game time for their respective English Premier League clubs.
Tau, who plays for Brighton and Hove Albion and is in the country to represent Bafana Bafana in their crucial 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Ghana at the FNB Stadium on Thursday and Sudan in Omdurman on Sunday, said SA’s new youngsters in the EPL are definitely players to look out for in the future.
Chauke plays for Southampton while Leshabela, whom Tau has already played against, represents the high-flying Leicester City.
“It’s great to have them there. They are the guys we’re looking up to in the next few years to represent our country’s name and give motivation to the younger boys. It’s always great seeing some of these SA players in the big leagues. It gives hope and I hope they can stay there, get game time and compete.
“They’ve got the talent and they’ve shown they belong there. They have the talent and the fact they’re there; it speaks to that. I hope I’ll see them in the national team, but these things take time. I’ve also spoken to Leshabela at Leicester.”
Tau’s two excellent spells with Club Brugge and Anderlecht in Belgium saw him return to parent club Brighton, who are embroiled in a relegation battle.
It is a far cry from the Champions League football he experienced in Belgium, something far from Brighton at the moment.
Instead, the club is locked in a relegation struggle where they’re six points ahead of 18th placed Fulham and two head of 17th placed Newcastle United.
It’s a foreign experience for Tau, who’s only ever experienced success with his various clubs. The experiences of playing in different leagues have made him a better footballer.
“It’s hard. You go into every game hoping to get a result and get out. The sooner you get out, the better. It’s hard though when you see your team where it is on the log,” Tau said.
“The level is hard and you can’t compare [it] to any league. It’s that different. If you go to Spain, you can’t compare it to Belgium and the EPL. Every league has its own demands and its competitiveness. That’s how it is in the EPL because every game is important, it is hard and there are top internationals.”
That he’s also struggling to get game time with Brighton despite their struggles isn’t something that worries Tau too much.
Having taken time to break into Mamelodi Sundowns’ setup before being one of their star players, Tau knows about biding his time.
“It can always get worse, but it can also be great. I’ve had the opportunity of playing and doing my best. It’s hard on the team because the guys are competing hard for their spots and when the chance doesn’t arise for another game, you look at the next game for another chance. You just hope that you’ll be ready when your chance comes,” Tau said.
“In life and in football, there will always be challenges. To be where I am today, I’ve taken some of those challenges in my stride. I just need to try hard, keep fighting and being patient, even though it is hard.”