JOHANNESBURG - Bevan Fransman has vouched for Maritzburg United teammate and central defensive partner Siyanda Xulu to maintain his consistency this season, thereby opening the door back into the Bafana set up.
Xulu, 26, missed out on the Four Nations tournament in Zambia last week, with coach Stuart Baxter saying the player was indeed on his radar, but he did not want to distract him by issuing a call-up.
Baxter took with him a new-look squad, the average age being 25, to experiment and prepare for the future. South Africa were crowned champions after beating the hosts 2-0 in the final.
“I think Siyanda has come up by leaps and bounds since the beginning of the season,” said Fransman, captain of the youthful and impressive Maritzburg side, one with an outside chance of winning the PSL as they are in third place with six games to go.
“Just the way he has taken up his role in the team since his arrival is fantastic for a player who has not really played too much football at his previous team. He has put on some massive performances for us and scored some very important goals.”
Much was made about Xulu’s return to the Premier Soccer League after spending a little under three years playing for FC Rostov in Russia, a side he’d joined from Mamelodi Sundowns in September 2012.
Xulu signed for Kaizer Chiefs prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign, arriving along with then new coach Steve Komphela, but never really got going at Naturena until there was a mutual agreement to cut ties late last year, freeing him up to join Maritzburg as a free agent.
“Ok, he missed out on Bafana this time, but in the future we could see him in the national team jersey. I think it’s just a matter of time if he can keep up his performances. I think he is just going to keep getting better as time goes by,” said Fransman.
The influence Xulu has had on the team is evident. He’s been unavailable for just one Absa Premiership match all season because of suspension and Maritzburg currently share the best defensive record with Chiefs.
A lot of his admirers have suggested that maybe Xulu needed to move away from the limelight of having been a Sundowns, Chiefs and national team player in his career and also a stint abroad. But his captain has a different argument.
“I just think he didn’t have the opportunity in the last two years to prove his worth,” Fransman explained. “The platform has been given to him now at Maritzburg and he has taken it on. I don’t think the limelight was an issue at all for him.
"He is a good guy in general and a winner on the field. These type of guys, you can’t keep them down for too long. He is a positive guy with a positive attitude - and that’s what you need in football.”