AFCON 2023: South African Fans Blame Ex Kaizer Chiefs Defender Xulu for Defeat Against Mali

AFCON 2023: South African Fans Blame Ex Kaizer Chiefs Defender Xulu for Defeat Against Mali

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
South Africa logo
South Africa
South Africa
Percy Tau logo
P. Tau
El Ahly Cairo logoFSouth Africa logo
Siyanda Xulu logo
Global FC logoDSouth Africa logo
  • South Africa kicked off their Africa Cup of Nations campaign against Mali
  • Hugo Broos’ Bafana Bafana were put to the sword by Eric Chelle’s Eagles
  • Fans have singled out the performance of defender Siyanda Xulu for criticism

South Africa kicked off their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in a manner that fell below the level anticipated by many.

Facing off against the Eagles of Mali, there was widespread anticipation that Hugo Broos' team would secure a victory, particularly after group favourite Tunisia suffered a surprising defeat to Namibia.

South Africa, Bafana Bafana, CAF, AFCON, Mali
South Africa's players pose ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations match against Mali. Image: Fadel SENNA.
Source: Getty Images

Although the 1996 AFCON winners initially showed promise with an early attacking spree that resulted in winning a penalty when Sikou Niakete fouled Thapelo Maseko inside the 18-yard box, Bafana Bafana's No. 10 Percy Tau disappointingly sent the spot kick into the stands.

However, while South Africa sought to capitalise on the momentum gained from the penalty, central defender Siyanda Xulu seemed out of sync with the game plan, displaying a lack of focus in his defensive efforts.

He gave away a foul right on the edge of the box just before the hour-mark with another clumsy piece of play, which led to Mali’s first goal.

He was also at fault for the second when he was easily brushed off the ball by Lassine Sinayoko, who scored Mali’s second.

The defender was also lucky to escape a red card after committing fouls that would have earned him such on another day, as reported by The Athletic.

The string of subpar performances by the former Kaizer Chiefs defender triggered a backlash from fans, with many expressing concern about his inclusion in the final AFCON team. Some even raised the possibility that his selection could be influenced by favouritism.

Fans' reaction to Xulu’s performance

@uNdu_Mk, dissatisfied with Xulu’s performance, remarked,

"I think Hugo Broos is a buccaneer and he used his clubism to mess with Kaizer Chiefs fans. You can't leave Given Msimango and pick Xulu."

@Khosi_4_Lyf, weary of the issues with Hugo Broos’ side, lamented,

"We used to cry about Aaron Mokoena, and now it’s Xulu 😭😭😭"

@13Uwais, not holding back on criticism for the former Kaizer Chiefs star, stated,

"You're telling me Ngezana, Kekana, Fielies are all worse than Xulu?? 😭😭😭 Are you having a laugh, Broos 🤦‍♂️😭"

@moflavadj succinctly expressed his feelings, saying,

"XULU will make us cry. Yho."

@RubesL_, seemingly fed up with the defender, wrote,

"Broos being sacked means I'll never have to watch Xulu ever again."

The sentiments of South African fans echo as a rallying cry for the coach to reconsider the 32-year-old defender when they face Namibia in their next match.

Fans blast Percy Tau for penalty miss

Sports Brief in a previous report highlighted Bafana Bafana fans have reacted to Percy Tau’s penalty miss.

The attacker was presented with the opportunity to put Hugo Broos’ side into the lead from the penalty spot but squandered the chance.

The miss from Tau has since sparked a flurry of reactions, with many expressing their displeasure with the miss.

Ero Samson photo
Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).