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Xulu in the fast lane

By Linda Moreotsene | Jan 15, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WHEN South African football folklore is recited years from now, there is no way that Siyanda Xulu's name will not come up.

WHEN South African football folklore is recited years from now, there is no way that Siyanda Xulu's name will not come up.

Whether that recitation would be a glowing one is up to the young Mamelodi Sundowns central defender, who received his first call-up to the national team 14 days after his 18th birthday, on December 30.

For one to understand how meteoric Xulu's rise has been, one has only to take a look at his record.

Xulu made his professional debut in the Absa Premiership match against SuperSport United on September 12, after graduating from the Downs development wing, and has since featured just 16 times for the Brazilians.

In those few matches, he has formed a defensive partnership with Luvhengo Mungomeni that has been hard to rattle and impossible to intimidate.

Supporters and detractors alike have raved about his maturity, reading of the game and tackling genius.

Understandably, the young lad from a family of four in Durban was very excited at the news, telling how his mother phoned him after hearing about his call-up on the radio.

"I have a debt to repay to all who believed in me - my family, Ted Dumitru and coach Hristo Stoichkov who gave me a chance. Senior players have also been very helpful and were the ones who told me to play with confidence and do my best.

"I owe them for their guidance and the improvement in my game. I am looking forward to learning from guys like Morgan Gould, Siyabonga Sangweni and Bongani Khumalo," Xulu said.

Downs have an impressive eight players called up, and Luvhengo Mungomeni and Matthew Pattison join Xulu as debutants.

Pattison took a gamble when he chose to move here from England, but he said: "It was definitely the right decision. I was surprised when I heard, although I was obviously hoping for it."

For his part, Mngomeni's patience and resilience paid off after a frustrating few seasons on the sidelines of the main team before securing regular playing time under Stoichkov.

"I knew I'd get a chance if I stayed positive and worked hard. I recognised that I was competing against the best players," Mngomeni said.


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