Jali got himself right, not us, says Pitso

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane gives instructions to Andile Jali during a match against Bloemfontein Celtic
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane gives instructions to Andile Jali during a match against Bloemfontein Celtic
Image: ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns have cited Andile Jali’s maturity as the reason for his change of fortunes at the soccer club and return to Bafana Bafana.

The 29-year-old central midfielder joined the Brazilians amid much fanfare in 2018 but his start at Chloorkop hit the skids as he was involved in a number of off-the-field shenanigans.

“I didn’t get him right‚ he got himself right‚” Mosimane said as they prepared to take on Highlands Park in the quarterfinal stage of the Nedbank Cup at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday.

“I don’t want to get praise for his change of fortunes. Mine was to monitor him‚ advise him and to make him aware that it is the Sundowns brand that he represents.

“I also made him aware of protecting his image and to protect his family because I wanted him to return to Bafana Bafana‚ and to help us in the Champions League. That was my part‚ the rest was up to him and he has done very well.

“I have never seen him play like this. I remember there was a time at Pirates with Oupa [Manyisa]‚ he was playing well‚ but football has changed.

“That time to this time‚ the tempo‚ the pressing and kilometres are different. The spaces are compressed‚ you can’t compare the era of Eric Tinkler to the era of Jali.”

Mosimane also lavished praise on Jali for the amount of work he had done on his physical conditioning.

On the clash against Highlands‚ the Downs mentor said he was expecting a tough battle.

“It’s a cup game‚ it has its own tempo‚ momentum and emotions. It [Makhulong] is a difficult place to go and we are also playing a well-rested team.

“If you were not aware of what happened against Stellenbosch FC before Tebogo Langerman went out to leave us with 10 men for about 15 to 20 minutes, including optional time,  we were already slowing down. Stellenbosch were on top of us but we managed the game.

“You need energy at Makhulong‚ you need player availability‚ which is what we are struggling with because of injuries. And you also need the mental strength because they don’t pull out of tackles.

“They are strong and they mark man to man — they go with you wherever you go. But fortunately we have mental strength.”

Saturday: Baroka FC v Black Leopards (Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3pm)

Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns (Makhulong Stadium‚ 6pm)

Sunday: TS Sporting v Bloemfontein Celtic (Kanyamazane Stadium‚ 3pm)