Xulu praises attitude of Bafana players in build-up to quarterfinal

South Africa defender Siyanda Xulu has praised the positive attitude of the players as they continue to prepare for their COSAFA Cup quarterfinal this week.

Xulu, who was named skipper of the side on Monday, says the young squad is looking sharp in training and as they wait to find out their quarterfinal opponents, who will be the top team in Group A.

That could be decided as early as Tuesday, if Madagascar beat Seychelles tonight and there is no winner between the Comoros and Mozambique.

“Things are very different, coach Stuart [Baxter] is a very tactical guy. He is going to help me on my game with our relationship as captain and coach,” Xulu said.

“We have to work hard and prepare well. I can never assure you of what we can do as a team.

“But I believe in the boys and from the first session you could see the attitude and that they [the players] are willing to work hard for one another. It is a good group of young players.”

Xulu says he was somewhat surprised by his selection as skipper, but is ready to wear the armband with pride.

“I am very honoured, it was a huge surprise. Coming here, I was trying to focus more on my own game. But I can lead, it is something I have in my locker. I didn’t expect it though.

“It was a privilege for me to work with the previous [Bafana] coaches. It is going to help me to lead the guys. It is a responsibility I have to take as a captain.”

South Africa are four-time winners of the COSAFA Cup, with their last triumph coming in 2016. They have brought a mostly young and inexperienced side to this year’s tournament as Baxter seeks to grow his player pool.