xulu and musona bag rookie award

THE good times keep rolling for Mamelodi Sundowns defender Siyanda Xulu after he and Kaizer Chiefs' Zimbabwean forward, Knowledge Musona, were named Jet Rookies of the Month for December yesterday.

The duo beat Thulani Hlatshwayo of Ajax Cape Town, Thandani Ntsumayelo of SuperSport United, Keegan Ritchie of Moroka Swallows, AmaZulu's Thami Sangweni and Koloko Mokhethi, formerly of Bloemfontein Celtic.

The announcement came hot on the heels of Xulu being drafted into Carlos Alberto Parreira's most recent Bafana squad, after his Absa Premiership debut in September for Downs, where he has formed a phenomenal central defensive partnership with Luvhengo Mngomeni.

Xulu and Musona, who has also had a stunning season at Amakhosi, beat five other players to each win the R5000 prize and have joined Andile Jali of Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United's Thabo Mongalo in the race for the Jet Club Rookie of the Year award, which carries a R50000 prize.

Downs' chief scout, Trott Moloto, welcomed the announcement yesterday.

"I think he has a great chance of winning the overall competition," Moloto said. "It is quite remarkable that the boy became part of an organised professional structure for the first time only five months ago.

"He has had no previous experience at this level, and for him to have impressed the national selectors twice is a source of pride for us. No matter what happens in his career from this point on, we are proud of the level-headed, respectful and hard-working young man he is," Moloto said.

Asked how Sundowns plan to avoid Xulu going the way of so many South African players who also promised so much early in their careers but delivered nothing, Moloto said: "The team has created an environment that will stop this from happening. The youngster fully intends to pursue his studies. We encourage him to do that and have advised him on life skills."

Musona was hailed by Zimbabwean coach Sunday Chidzambwa for his impressive display against Bafana in an international friendly in Durban last Wednesday, despite the fact that the 19-year-old failed to score.

Chidzambwa sees Musona as the next Peter Ndlovu.