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Why Percy Tau’s Goal Against Liberia Didn’t Stand: An Analysis



What Happened

In a 2023 Afcon qualifier between South Africa and Liberia at Orlando Stadium, Bafana Bafana were leading 2-0 when referee Bamlak Tessema gave the hosts an indirect free-kick after an unintentional foul. Percy Tau stepped up and took the set-piece, finding the back of the net, but the goal did not stand.

The Outcome

The game ended in a disappointing 2-2 draw, with South African fans left unhappy after their team missed several chances to score more goals.

Why the Confusion?

Former Bafana defender Matthew Booth explained why Percy Tau might have taken a direct free-kick, “The referee rightly gave an indirect free-kick, the ball got caught under the defender’s legs and he gave up an indirect free-kick.”

However, Booth suggested that the referee might have caused confusion and forgotten to properly indicate that the kick was an indirect one. “He raised his hand for an indirect free-kick but then he lowered it unless the directive has changed… [Tessema] should keep that hand up to make sure that everybody understands that it is indirect, and I think he even forgot because he went across to the linesman to remind him.”

The bottom line is that the ball didn’t touch any player on the way to the net, and had to be called back as an indirect free-kick.

How Indirect Free-Kicks Should Be Taken

An indirect free-kick is taken from where the foul was taken. Unlike other set pieces, the kick-taker is not allowed to touch the ball again until another player has touched it. If the indirect kick goes into the goal without another player touching it – as in Tau’s case – a goal kick is awarded.

What’s Next for Tau and Bafana

Despite the setback, South Africa still has a chance to make the 2023 finals in Ivory Coast. A win away in their next qualifier will see them through to the tournament.