If you look at the history of Andile Jali, you are likely to find out that he is quite an elaborate figure when it comes to social affairs and tends to make headlines for all the wrong reasons. There was a time where he was reduced to a spectator at Mamelodi Sundowns to a point where he was as good as written off.
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This season, the 31-year-old midfielder has turned around the corner and is always the talking point for his stellar and gallant performances on the pitch, leading up to debates about whether Hugo Broos should reconsider his decision to exclude Jali from his new-look Bafana Bafana team.
Jali picked up the Player of the Month for December following numerous Man of the Match accolades in November and last month, and his coach, Rhualni Mokwena believes this is the season for Jali to shine on the pedestal.
“I am very surprised that with Andile and Themba Zwane’s performances and consistency, we have not started the debate of Footballer of the Season. Hopefully now that Andile has won Player of the Month and based on the Man of the Match awards that he has already collected, maybe we can start the talk of ‘is Andile the Footballer of the Season so far’,” said Mokwena.
However, Jali takes a different tone, refusing to stand in glory all on his own as he humbly credits his teammates for the monthly gong and showed much appreciation to the medical team for helping him stay fit. The former Orlando Pirates anchor has a long history with hamstring injuries but this season, he has managed to stay out of the casualty ward, clocking 20 games across all competitions.
“We had games almost every two days but what helped was the recovery and we were professional even the coaches did not have to tell us about discipline, since it was December and we know what goes on during that period. The coaches told us that it was time for us to entertain the people and not the other way around,” said Jali.
He continued: “I just want to thank the people who noticed my work in December because it shows that I was doing something more than everyone else. But most importantly, I thank my teammates and supporters because they gave me a lot of support. The medical team worked very hard towards my hamstring problems, they drew up an exercise plan for me and that played a huge role in my fitness.”