Percy Tau admits Bafana had the wrong strategy in Ivory Coast defeat

South Africa's forward Percy Tau (L) fights for the ball with Ivory Coast's defender Wonlo Coulibaly during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Ivory Coast and South Africa at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on June 24, 2019.
South Africa's forward Percy Tau (L) fights for the ball with Ivory Coast's defender Wonlo Coulibaly during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Ivory Coast and South Africa at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on June 24, 2019.
Image: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Bafana Bafana's inability to get their attack working was the major flaw in their 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations opening defeat against Ivory Coast on Monday‚ said star forward Percy Tau.

Tau was among those in the frontline who could not get his game up to full flow in the searing heat of Egypt 2019's second Group D match-up‚ which kicked off in 37 degrees Celsius at Cairo's Al Salam Stadium.

The two teams dealt with the heat better‚ and managed a match at a better tempo‚ then Morocco's sluggish 1-0 Group D win against Namibia the previous day.

Without making excuses for Bafana‚ a reality is that the heat did affect them marginally more.

Bafana's game plan relies on their quick-passing game‚ and in the few moments where they managed to get that together Ivory Coast looked uncomfortable.

But the South Africans could never play to that tempo throughout the game in such conditions.

The big Ivorians‚ with greater player class‚ were able to be languid for long periods then exploded into destructive attack mode when the opportunities arose.

Tau‚ though‚ was justifiably disappointed that Bafana - whose major positive going forward in the Afcon was that they looked beautifully structured in their opener - could not get more into attack‚ and rattle the Elephants a lot more.

He suggested Bafana's forwards could not quite execute their attacking plan‚ and also that the strategy itself was not quite correct.

"I think we could have done better.

"I think if we had got our attack better‚ got our attack proper‚ because we have a decent attack‚ it was going to be better‚" the Belgian-based former Mamelodi Sundfowns star said.

"But‚ ja‚ we couldn't do that. We couldn't get in the game. And this was the first match - I think in the second match we'll see a lot of improvement from ourselves‚ and from myself also."

Tau played down the physicality of the big West Africans‚ and suggested it was more Bafana's inability to find the solution to overcome that which was at fault.

"No. Ja‚ look‚ I know I couldn't get in the match.

"But then I don't think they were that physical - that's what we expected‚" Tau said.

"Like I say‚ if we got our plan right it was going to be a different story. I don't think we could look at them and see a huge difference.

"If we did our attack properly it would have been a different story. And as good as they are‚ we could have done better in our attack.

"I don't think their size matters at all. Most of the guys in the team have played Caf Champions League‚ we have played against bigger opponents."

Bafana's next game on Friday night against Namibia at Al Salam Stadium (kickoff 10pm) is now basically a must-win for both teams.

Asked if Bafana have to win‚ Tau said: "I think we have to. Yes. I think we have to beat them."

Encouraging for Bafana is that they held their own against a very strong Ivory Coast.

In performance alone‚ it was a better start in than Morocco beginning with a poor display needing an own goal to defeat Namibia. But Morocco have the three points.

Dean Furman did his job covering the kilometres in extreme heat in central midfield‚ and in front of him Kamohelo Mokotjo was outstanding.

The back four were not nearly as caught for pace as one might have expected from Nicolas Pepe‚ 65th-minute scorer Jonathan Kodjia and co.

Bafana have an excellent defensive block of six and the structure is polished‚ which for any team entering a major tournament is the starting point.

Get the attack functioning and SA should win against Namibia‚ and might even be able to get a result against Morocco on Monday - as they actually almost did against an at times awe-inspiring Cote d'Ivoire.

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