Baxter says Tau shouldn't get wrapped in cotton wool
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has indicated that he will place a bigger individual challenge on his star attacker Percy Tau come June’s AFCON 2019.
The British coach who has started to prepare to face Cote d'Ivoire, Namibia and Morocco, has marked Tau to be a key man for Bafana’s Group D success.
“Big players win big games and you can’t prepare people by wrapping them in cotton wool‚” Baxter said to Times Live.
“The easy way is not a good teacher. Percy has got to where he is by working hard and taking some of the knocks.
Baxter went on to reveal that he had discussed the former Mamelodi Sundowns players’ physical strength with the coach of Tau’s English Premier League mother club, Brighton & Alboin.
“When Chris Hutton [Albion coach] called and asked me ‘is he strong enough’ I said to him he played against (Kalidou) Coulibaly (of Napoli and Burkina Faso) and didn’t get knocked around‚"
“I said if you look at the Burkina Faso centre-backs they are almost two metres and 150 kilos‚ yet Percy was in and out of them and they couldn’t catch him.
“He had to go through that and Coulibaly did try and knock him out. The two centre-backs did. So he got through that. I think he needs to stretch himself even more.
“So rather than wrap Percy under the cotton wool and say that we don’t want them to target him‚ well target him.
“You have to stretch yourself and we have to stretch ourselves and people have to maybe take some of the burden from Percy by making some movements to try and take some of the defenders around.
“So we have to get better as a team and Percy has to stretch himself. In the time leading up to the Afcon we will take that into account with all the players,” Baxter concluded.
Bafana will kick off the tournament against the Ivorians on Monday 24 June at the Al Salam Stadium.