Bafana Bafana vice-captain Siyanda Xulu has sought to clarify why they are struggling to raise their game against the lower-ranked nations.
South Africa drew 0-0 with eSwatini last week Friday at FNB Stadium, the nation ranked 144th in the world and then went on to produce a sterling display in a 1-1 draw with 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast in Abidjan.
The Elephants, currently ranked 50th are on an upward trajectory with a youthful team packed with emerging talent around Europe, added to some more high-profile figures like Franck Kessie, Seko Fofana, Wilfried Zaha and Sebastien Haller.
“The standard of the team is very high, most of the players represent overseas teams, so it was very difficult for us, they’ve been here before, they played week in and week out high level of football,” Xulu told iDiski Times.
“I’m very proud of the boys, very proud of the team, we performed at the level we expect ourselves to perform, so it’s about taking each game as it comes and building from there.”
When pressed on raising their game in a match away from home against formidable opposition, which many could attribute to the incredible atmosphere in a packed out arena, Xulu stated it’s all in the mind.
“For sure, it’s a mental thing mostly. As a footballer you always want to compete against the best, so whenever we play your so-called lower-ranked teams, they come motivated at us, so it’s difficult for us to up the level where we know we can perform even better,” Xulu admitted.
“When we come against the higher-ranked teams we want to show our quality as well – it’s just a mental thing.”