Michaelson Ntokozo Gumede

By Ntokozo Gumede


Jali praised for ‘relentless’ fight back to fitness at Sundowns

'The transformation of Jali is incredible,' said Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena.

One player who Mamelodi Sundowns fans have not seen much of so far this season is Andile Jali, who only made one appearance in three games.

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Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena, however, has praised the experienced midfielder, even saying that if teams could field an extra player, Jali would definitely get the nod.

“Mhlekazi”, as he is popularly known, has been kept on the bench by Mothobi Mvala, who impressed Downs coaches in pre-season. Jali could, however, make a comeback when Sundowns face Golden Arrows in the semifinal of the MTN8 on Saturday in KwaZulu-Natal, as Masandawana are flooded by injuries.

“The transformation of Jali is incredible. Upon my arrival for a second stint, I could feel that Andile was a bit disconnected from the group, slightly overweight and maybe missing the passion for the game but I must say that his level of commitment and training and his relentless focus to try and improve his physical condition is incredible,” said Mokwena.

“One thing that many people don’t know about him is how honest he is. Sometimes there is the misconception that he is arrogant, but he has got a lot of confidence. The only thing that is keeping him out of the pitch are the laws of the game that says we can only field 11 players,” added the Sundowns co-head coach.

Mokwena insists that his side are under no pressure to win the MTN8, which has been the one trophy Masandawana have not got their hands on in a decade and a half.

“We are not desperate, we are people of process, we are serious people who are really focused this season and extremely motivated. Ours is a responsibility to make sure that we prepare as well as we can for every match, so we can give the best that we can and have the possibility to win every game,” said Mokwena.

“In the previous game, it was a league match against Chippa United and we went there to try and win but we were disappointed that we didn’t win the game. When you walked into the change room, you could possibly hear a pin drop… that’s how somber the mood was and that is good. When champions don’t win matches, there is no consolation – it’s win or nothing, and that’s the mentality that we carry at Sundowns.”

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