Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Andile Jali says he is pleased that he has fulfilled some of the goals he set out following his return to South Africa from Belgium.
The Bafana Bafana international came back to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) a season ago and explains why he missed the supporters on the stands.
Although he was expected to re-join Orlando Pirates where he enjoyed success, ‘Mhlekazi’ opted to join coach Pitso Mosimane’s troops in July 2018 where he has already tasted league glory and lifted the Telkom Knockout Cup trophy.
“Another big task I knew I had was to represent my country. It really feels good to have seen a positive response to the goals I had coming back home,” Jali told the Sundowns website.
“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.”
Following his arrival from KV Oostende in Belgium, Jali struggled for game time at Chloorkop in the 2018/19 campaign and he could only manage 16 appearances across all competitions.
However, just before the PSL season was suspended in March, the diminutive midfielder was key for the reigning PSL champions and eventually commanded a regular spot in the heart of the park.
Subsequent to his stellar displays for Sundowns, Jali caught Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki’s eye and he was included in the squad to face Sao Tome e Principe in March, but the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although many thought the former Buccaneers midfielder was set to struggle competing against the likes of Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, and Oupa Manyisa, the Matatiele-born player has done well to force his way into the starting XI.
Mosimane recently expressed his delight in helping the 30-year-old midfielder regain his best form and also gain the recognition of the national team selectors.
Looking at his contribution this term, the three-time PSL title winner has notched 30 appearances in all competitions and netted a single goal so far.
Should the season resume, Mosimane will be pinning his hopes on the former University of Pretoria midfielder's influence as they are not only challenging to retain the PSL title but to lift the Nedbank Cup to win their maiden treble.