Pitso Mosimane should look into his crystal ball a lot more often because his prediction about Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Andile Jali was spot on.
Earlier this season, ‘Jingles’, while speaking to the press, raised expectations on the former KV Oostende anchorman as he geared for his second year in Masandawana colours having returned to the Premier Soccer League some 12 months prior.
Mosimane lauded Jali for his fitness routine as well as his work ethic, and before the campaign was brought to a halt by the Coronavirus pandemic, ‘Mhlekazi’ had done a lot of his talking on the pitch with an overall 30 games in all competitions.
Jali put in 90 minutes shifts against some strong opposition: Petro Luanda (Angola), USM Alger (Algeria), Wydad Casablanca (Morocco) and Al Ahly (Egypt).
In his own words, shortly after collecting one of a few Man of the Match performances during our 2-1 victory over Golden Arrows to take the club to yet another Telkom Knockout final last year, Jali paid a tribute to his teammates for “pushing him”.
“Having come back home from Europe i always knew it was not going to be easy, but Sundowns made the transition easier because i could feel that i did not come back to just any team but it felt like family, and i had all my brothers around me to assist me settle in.”
“However with all the talent we have in the squad, making it in the starting line up was not going to be a walk in the park but my mind was set out for the task” said Jali.
Andile has made great strides this season and this has not only been recognised by his club coach, but Bafana Bafana mentor Molefi Ntseki, too.
The national team coach recalled ‘Mhlekazi’ back to the Bafana fold after more than two years since he represented his country in a 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Sadio Mane’s Senegal during Stuart Baxter’s tenure.
Just two months ago, Ntseki named Jali in his 25-man squad to face Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, but the Sundowns midfield kingpin is going to have to wait a little longer to make his Bafana return.
It’s another fixture that was called off due to Covid-19, but Jali can take with him the positives – that he’s back on the national team radar and can look ahead to helping them qualify for the next edition of the Afcon in Cameroon.
“Another big task I knew I had was to represent my country. it really feels good to have seen a positive response to my goals i had coming back home.”
“But most of all the South African fans were one of the things i was looking forward to seeing again. Hearing them cheer and feeling their passion from the stands.”