Xulu aims to lead

NEWLY appointed Maritzburg United captain Siyanda Xulu insists the local club are not a one-season wonder as they prepare to revive hostilities with provincial rivals Golden Arrows in their first league game of 2018/19 at Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday.

Kick-off is at 3 pm.

The Team of Choice enjoyed a record-breaking campaign last term, finishing fourth in the league while reaching two cup semi-finals, and the 26-year-old centre-back, who hails from Durban, is confident they can match their exploits going forward.

“This season our ambitions are clear — we want to continue playing in the MTN8 and that means finishing in the top eight. We did last year and I think we can achieve the same, but I don’t think we have to put too much pressure on ourselves,” he said.

Xulu excelled in his first season with the Midlands club after joining from Kaizer Chiefs in August last year, walking away with the PSL Defender of the Season gong at the end-of-the-season awards in Johannesburg. Now the skipper has said he is ready to lead as the new club captain with the captaincy having become vacant after Bevan Fransman left for Highlands Park at the end of last season.

“It is something that is within me to lead the team. I know I always have to be there for my teammates. I’ve always been a leader and we get along very well so I don’t think we’re going to have any challenges.”

Xulu went on to say that he had been impressed by the team’s pre-season and hoped his youthful side can adopt similar tactics in their favour starting with Sunday’s eagerly anticipated KZN derby against usually stubborn Arrows.

“We have a very young squad and I think it was good for the team to experience being in the final. It was the first time for most of the players. So it was a nice experience but now we have to look ahead and make new targets starting with Sunday’s match.

“It’s not going to be easy. We saw it happening with Bidvest Wits when they won the league and then came back the following year and struggled. It was a lesson to all of us and it’s not something we want to experience. So we will try not to get ahead of ourselves. We have to stay focused and deliver in our perfomances to be constant top-eight finishers,” he concluded.

While their success was well received last season with large crowds attending their home games, Xulu was hoping to see an even bigger audience at Harry Gwala Stadium.

So far, only Fransman and Sheldon van Wyk have left the local club, with Devon Saal, who spent the second part of last term on loan to Stellenbosch FC, also now officially gone. Another player who will not be back is William Twala, who was let go after failing to make an impact during his loan spell from Amakhosi.

Now, coach Fadlu Davids has brought in five fresh faces, among them two talented defenders: Nazeer Allie and Denwin Farmer.

The other recruits are Keagan Buchanan and local players Sizwe Muthwa and Tholang Masegela.