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No more friendlies: ‘It’s money-time now’ for Bafana Bafana as Fifa World Cup qualifiers start

Siyanda Xulu playing for Bafana Bafana.

Siyanda Xulu says coach Hugo Broos has instilled a winning mentality in the Bafana Bafana squad. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Published Nov 18, 2023


Bafana Bafana defender Siyanda Xulu has heaped praise on the winning mentality instilled in the team by head coach Hugo Broos.

The 31-year-old centre-back has been one of the Belgian’s most trusted go-to men since his arrival in 2021, and has been a mainstay in the starting XI, making 16 starts under the experienced mentor.

Broos has a difficult task ahead, needing to grab decent results in the opening rounds of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, but also using that period as preparation for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

The 71-year-old mastermind conquered the continent with Cameroon in 2017 as he lifted the Afcon trophy in Equatorial Guinea.

Now at the helm of Bafana, he will look to write more history in his name, starting with Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Benin at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (3pm kickoff) – and Xulu backs his leader to deliver the goods.

“Broos is a coach that tries to instil that winning mentality in us at all times, which makes it easier for us as the seniors in the team to convey the message to the young ones because it’s something that is evident to everyone,” Xulu said yesterday.

“Whatever he speaks about, whether good or bad, it eventually happens... and that shows experience. He has shown before that he is someone that knows the game, so that makes everyone’s job just a little easier.”

The SuperSport United man is currently in camp with Bafana ahead of their first Group C match against Benin.

Following this international break – with South Africa travelling to Rwanda for Tuesday’s encounter – will be the Afcon in the Ivory Coast, with little to no time to put together friendly matches as preparation.

The last set of friendlies played by Bafana was against Namibia, DR Congo, Eswatini and Ivory Coast.

Although a positive performance in the 1-1 away draw against the Ivorians raised optimism, many expressed concerns over showings against the less fancied sides.

However, Xulu believes he and his teammates have no reason to focus on the past, but rather look to show up when it matters most in the battle for points and medals, starting with Benin.

“It's money-time now... there are no more friendly games. We have to make sure we accumulate as many points as possible as a country, because we know the difficulties of going away to get points.”