Bafana Bafana defender Siyanda Xulu has pointed out one of the key figures of their Africa Cup of Nations exploits who has largely gone under the radar.
Xulu was reinstated into the starting line-up in the semi-final against Nigeria and produced a solid display as South Africa suffered a penalty shoot-out heartbreak.
It was a brave performance after three games within a week, and the Strenght and Conditioning Coach Kopano Melesi played a vital role in the competitiveness of the squad who went two consecutive games into 120 minutes.
“I think the fact that we’ve been together for a long time as a team [the conditioning] was not something out of the norm, we stuck with what we thought would work for us, we have a very good conditioning coach in Kopano [Melesi],” Xulu said ahead of the third-fourth playoff game against DR Congo.
“He’s someone we’ve had for a while and I’m sure it was a bit easier working with players he’s familiar with – and the fact that we have Sundowns players…
“It’s something they are also familiar with, games coming in thick and fast, it’s what we’re very privileged for, having so many players of the same team, players who know the occasion of playing every two or three days – it helped us a lot.
“It really wasn’t out of the norm to be ready for the games in a short time.”
South Africa take on the Leopards tomorrow at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny at 22h00.