Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki will for the first time this year name a squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and there’s one player who will be hoping to end his two-year hiatus.
Siyanda Xulu hasn’t been drafted into the national team since October 2018 when Stuart Baxter was the coach, but maybe this year – some six months following his move to Hapeol Tel Aviv in the Israel Premier League – things could change.
“I always want to represent my country. It’s the one piece of the puzzle that’s missing for me – internationally I have not done enough for myself,” Xulu told the Siya crew.
“I’ve been part of the set up for the past 10 years of my career, but I don’t have a lot to show for it. When I was at Sundowns I was a regular in the set-up, but I never got too many games under my belt. Then I went to Russia and was still part of the set-up, but I wasn’t too impressive when I played despite being a regular in a big league playing for a big club (Rostov). At Maritzburg I played almost every game, was contender for Defender of the Season, but I still didn’t get a lot of games. I was unfortunate with my ankle injury at a time I thought I had a chance to break into the starting line-up.”
Ntseki, who took over from Baxter in August 2019, will announce his team to face Ghana and Sudan in back to back Afcon qualifiers on Thursday.
The centreback position is crowded, but does the fact that Xulu plays abroad give him any slight advantage?
“It’s about what the coach wants and prefers. I don’t think it is about playing locally or abroad,” the former Kaizer Chiefs defender explains.
“If the coach likes combination football, then he will go for those familiar with that system. If he wants to be direct, he will pick that type of player irrespective of whether you are based locally or overseas. We are all good players and can all deliver, but you get your confidence from the coach, then your quality will shine through.”
Xulu has also been consistent and is part of the Hapeol Tel Aviv core this season, starting in 20 of their 22 games to date.
“From my side, if I play overseas and I get a call-up, I owe it to myself to show people that I am doing well where I am,” he insists.
Story by @superjourno
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