Bafana vice captain Percy Tau has spoken of the criticism the national team has endured, saying sometimes it is affecting them mentally to perform and the best people they will rely on is their families.
The criticism came flooding recently after the South Africa rugby side Springboks defended its World Cup, beating New Zealand in the final last month in France, leading fans to call the football national team as not have the best interest at heart to fight for the badge as the Boks showed.
The warrant of criticism is because football is the sport that is loved by most in the county but it has failed to produce good momentos in South Africa and neither come close to win something meaningful since 1998 Africa Cup of Nations, where they lost to Egypt in the final in Burkina Faso.
Cricket, which has gone through its doldrums in recent years, appears to have turned the corner as Proteas are in the semi-final of the World Cup and will face Australia on Thursday.
Bafana is in camp as they start the 2026 FIFA World Cup CAF zone qualifiers and will host Benin at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (15:00).
Tau said the criticism has has find its way into their skin and it is very sad to see because they don’t go to matches to lose but to win because they have set goals.
“It is hard mentally to take it all what people will say, because we have the goals that we set to ourselves and as an individual. Sometimes you achieve them and sometimes you don’t,” said Tau of the criticism.
“But people tend to forget that you are also human being with feelings and emotions, that stuff do get to you. But at the same time you try and pull the tough face and go through the moment. What I do I try to get close to my family.
“But sometimes you can’t go through their opinions but you can control what you can control and leave others stuff behind.
“Some situations are not really there to affect you, but people tend to be negative but it is not because of your doing. You try and look at what they are saying is it really about me or trying to be negative about the situations? Mentally it is hard.”
Bafana will be playing for the first time at the Moses Mabhida Stadium since they beat São Tomé e Principle on 13 November 2021 during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers (AFCON), and Tau has good memories as he was on the scoresheet on that day as they won 2-0.
After this Benin match, Bafana will visit Rwanda four days later in Butare. These are the last competitive matches before they head to the Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations finals next year.