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Tau deserves a chance, Pitso – posted by

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Kaizer Chiefs captain Jimmy Tau has been a shining example of how to lead men. 

When Pitso Mosimane sits among the nominees at the 2011 South African Sports Awards at Sun Cityt, at the top of his mind will not be the glitz and glamour, but Bafana Bafana’s next opponents in the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers. 

If South Africa manage to scramble three points in Niger next month, Mosimane would have succeeded where the Brazilian Joel Santana had failed in leading the national team to the finals of the continent’s showpiece in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in January and February next year. 

No sane person can deny that Mosimane’s reign has been successful thus far. 

The four points against Egypt, perhaps more than any other period except the 2010 Fifa World Cup, signified South Africa’s standing in the continental game for the first time since the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. 

Also, few would fault Mosimane in his selections over the past year. However, if the dynamics of the team seem to be in place, it does not necessarily mean that there is not room for improvement, and most importantly there is no space for new names to join the jamboree. 

One such player is Jimmy Tau, the humble and well-spoken Kaizer Chiefs captain. Tau’s recall to the national team is long overdue. At 31, he still possesses the energy of a 21-year-old and his constant omission from the squad is baffling. 

Tau has been a shining example of how to lead men, and at the same time he has been a model for any youngster wanting to make a career of football. 

His darting runs on the right flank can be compared to perhaps the best right-back in the world, Barcelona’s Dani Alves. 

Their auxiliary style of play ensures that they are not the normal right-back – whose sole preoccupation is defending. 

They become the wing in their respective team’s attacking play, even playing the final cross into the opposition’s danger area. 

This, of course, is not a slight on the two consistently selected right-backs in the national team; Belgian-based duo Anele Ngcongca and Siboniso Gaxa. 

Ngcongca, who played a sterling role in Racing Genk’s championship-winning season, has been Mosimane’s most-trusted man at right-back, and rightly so considering that he has yet to have a poor match for Bafana Bafana. 

Whilst Ngcongca, 24 in October, has been a jewel in Mosimane’s crown, the same cannot be said about Gaxa. 

Despite his enormous talent and ability to own the right flank, something seems to have knocked his progress a peg back from the moment he took the field against Mexico in the opening game of the World Cup. 

Fear seemed to engulf Gaxa further when he was dropped for the final match against France, never to truly recover “his” place from Ngcongca. 

The former has remained part of Mosimane’s plans, and at 27 there is no need to press the panic buttons. 

Despite these two competitive combatants battling it out for the right-back position, this should not discount Tau, especially when considering that Ngcongca can also strut his stuff in central defence and as a defensive midfielder. 

On the other hand, Gaxa and Tau can also offer more tactically because they can be used as wing-backs in Mosimane’s tactical jigsaw; offering the national coach different possibilities ahead of the Nations Cup. 

There are footballers who when thrust upon the spotlight tend to shrink into their shells – these three right-back competitors are not among such players. 

In attempting to win the Nations Cup – he will tell you he wants to reach the semi-finals but secretly he craves the glory that comes with winning tournaments – Mosimane will have to select the most-consistent players. 

The most critical place to begin with is defence, where the striking abilities of the likes of Didier Drogba and Asamoah Gyan will require stern supervision. 

The balance brought by the return of Lucas Thwala from injury is key, while regular left-back Tshepo Masilela’s move from Maccabi Haifa in Israel to Getafe in Madrid was a smart move. 

With Bongani Khumalo and Siyabonga Sangweni expected to play at centre-back, Tau would still not be out of place in the 23-man squad. 

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