One of the pairing that has been questionable after the 2-0 loss Bafana Bafana picked agaisnt Mali, is for Mothobi Mvala and Siyanda Xulu.
However, Bafana Bafana defender Mothobi Mvala has spoken glowingly about his partnership with veteran defender Siyanda Xulu, painting a picture of a relationship bordering on mutual support and shared responsibility.
Xulu, alongside Mvala, was at the heart of the Bafana defence that conceded two goals in the second half of the match.
Bafana Bafana’s next challenge comes against Namibia on Sunday, a crucial match if they are to have any hope of progressing from the group stage. They meet at 10pm at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in a Group E encounter in Korhogo.
Once again, Bafana coach Hugo Broos will place trust in the Mvala-Xulu partnership, and the Mamelodi Sundowns defender has essentially said they are united and determined ahead of that encounter.
MOTHOBI MVALA LEARNING A LOT FROM SIYANDA XULU
“He’s someone who has experience, I’m learning a lot from him,” Mvala told FARPost. Sitting on 28 caps, the SuperSport United defender is the fifth most experienced player in the current Bafana squad. Only Ronwen Williams, Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Teboho Mokoena have donned the Bafana jersey more than the 32-year-old defender Xulu.
“He always guides me, even when I make mistakes. He compliments me, and we complement each other. We coach each other on the field.”
Mvala emphasises that the responsibility for the team’s performance lies with everyone, not just individual players. “It’s not only him,” he said. “Everyone in that position, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Grant Kekana, they’re always there. We support one another because it’s not about us; it’s about the team.”
Despite the Mali setback, Mvala remains optimistic about Bafana’s chances in the rest of the tournament.
“We just try our best to win the games and keep clean sheets,” he stated. “We were just unfortunate in that game that things didn’t go the way we thought.”
He insists they learn from every slip-up as they always strive to keep things tight at the back. “We have a couple of clean sheets, and as a team, we always try to keep clean sheets as much as we can.
“Sometimes, you find good opponents, and then they capitalise and get goals. But we always watch our games and try not to repeat the same mistakes so that we keep more clean sheets.”
As he faces Namibia captain Peter Shalulile, his teammate since their days at Highlands Park and now at Sundowns, Mvala knows what needs to be done. Together with Xulu, they will have to cut out any supply to ‘Shasha’.
“We’re focusing on the team, not focusing on an individual. But I think he’s a good player, someone I know from Highlands Park. He’s a very good striker. The numbers are not lying. He’s someone that doesn’t need too many chances to get a goal. He can get a goal from small chances.”
In case you missed it, after Khama Billiat being spotted training with Supersport United this week, the official confirmation and update has been finally made regarding his future.
Supersport United captain, Bhasera, who played with Billiat in the national team including the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2019, said any club in the world would grab the opportunity to sign a player of Billiat’s quality.
Billiat left Kaizer Chiefs at the end of last season under a cloud, as the Soweto giants confirmed thet were waiting for him to come back on the offer they tabled to him after they started the pre-season for 2023/24.
It was about negotiating a new contract as his previous deal with Amakhosi had expired, but the numbers given to Billiat appeared to be not satisfy him, so he decided to go home and spend the first round of the season club-less.
He has now started training with Gavin Hunt’s side, who are short on numbers in attack, as they are involved in the CAF inter-club competition – the Confederations Cup as well as the league and Nedbank Cup.
“He was there at training [on Thursday] and that is what I can give you,” said Bhasera after the Nedbank Cup Round of 32 draw, where they were paired against Cape Town City in the first round.
“But I don’t know anything else, but he is keeping fit. I spoke to him; I think before we even got close, he wanted to keep fit. Of course, you don’t expect him to be the Khama he was because he has been a bit rusty, he has been sitting at home.
“But I think any club in the world now would love to have the quality of Khama, so I don’t know what is going to happen. We put our fingers crossed so that, if anything happens, will happen to us, he will join us.
“But right now, I don’t know. Khama is just training with us, keeping fit.”
Billiat is one of the best foreign players to have played in South Africa, claiming the PSL Footballer of the Year in the 2015/16 season with Mamelodi Sundowns.
As he was untouchable in 2016, he helped Sundowns win the CAF Champions League, scoring a vital goal in the first leg of the semi-final against ZESCO United away before the Tshwane giants finished the job in South Africa to reach the final.
He won three league titles with Sundowns, the Nedbank Cup, a Telkom Knockout, and the CAF Super Cup.