Xulu braced for "a hell of a game"

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The 26-year-old expects a stern test from the Absa Premiership leaders, who are riding a 15-game unbeaten streak in all competitions and look destined for their eighth PSL title with three league games left.

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“We’re expecting a very tough game obviously," Xulu is quoted as saying on Maritzburg's website.

“It’s never easy against Sundowns, but we want to show that we’re the best, and to be the best, you have to beat the best. We are playing at home, we want to win the cup, it’s no secret that we want to be in the final.

“They are one of the top sides, not only in South Africa, but in Africa. So we have to respect them, but we want the result, we’re at home and want to go to the final.”

Xulu, however, has faith the Team of Choice can contain the likes of Percy Tau, Themba Zwane and Khama Billiat at Harry Gwala Stadium on the weekend.

“What we will try and do is stick to our plan, do what we have done through the season and that is to focus on ourselves, playing the way we train. And whatever comes in the game, we have to deal with that.

“I don’t think much has to be changed with our defensive approach. We’re one of the best defensive sides in the league. Yes, Sundowns are a very good side, we have to show them respect and plan for them, but I don’t think much will change on our side.

“Unfortunately in football the past does not count. We can’t think because we beat them in Pretoria [1-0 in the MTN8 last August] now we’ll have the upper hand, that’s not the case.

“Sundowns are scoring goals, they are a very well-oiled machine. But we’ve also been doing well, scoring goals, we have been defending well too. It’s going to be a hell of a 90 minutes.”

Xulu launched his career at Sundowns before joining Rostov in 2012. The defender spent just shy of three years in Russia before returning to South Africa as a marquee signing for Kaizer Chiefs.

However, he barely featured in a two-year spell for Amakhosi and was released prior to reviving his career with the Team of Choice this season.