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Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates

COMMENT: Should Andile Jali have returned to Orlando Pirates instead of joining Sundowns?

12:07 GMT 10/11/2018
Andile Jali Mamelodi Sundowns
Goal takes a look at whether or not the midfield maestro should have returned to his former club instead of joining the Brazilians

South Africa international Andile Jali was one of the most sought after players during the Premier Soccer League (PSL) transfer window last winter.

The experienced midfielder became available following KV Oostende's decision to release him at the end of his contract. 

Top South Africans clubs Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates battled for his signature.

The former Pirates fan-favourite, who remained loyal to the Soweto giants after leaving the club for Belgium, surprisingly decided to join his childhood team, Sundowns. 

The Brazilians won the race for the 28-year-old player after offering him a lucrative five-year deal.

Goal takes a look at whether Jali should have returned to Bucs instead of joining Sundowns. 


GAME TIME



When Jali signed for Sundowns, he was immediately faced with a mammoth task of competing for a place in the team's star-studded starting line-up.

The Tshwane giants were already boasting arguably the best central midfield in the country which comprises of his former Pirates team-mate Oupa Manyisa, Tiyani Mabunda and Hlompho Kekana as well Lucky Mohomi.

It was obvious that Jali would not be guaranteed a regular spot in the starting line-up, and he has since made only five appearances in the league thus far. 

This has also hampered his chances of regaining his spot in the national team as he is yet to be recalled to the Bafana Bafana squad since joining Sundowns.

At Pirates, Jali was most likely to slot straight into the Bucs starting line-up, joining Xola Mlambo in a dynamic central midfield partnership.

Mlambo, who has established himself as Pirates' first-choice midfielder, has been partnered with Musa Nyatama and Ben Motshwari in midfield so far this season

Motshwari has dished out some promising displays, but he is yet to prove that he deserves a regular spot in the team as he is still trying to adapt to Bucs' style of play.

On the other hand, Nyatama has struggled to replicate last season's form which saw him become one of the top midfielders in the country as the Buccaneers pushed for the PSL title.

Jali's experience, ability to adapt quickly and familiarity with the Bucs setup would have given him the edge over Motshwari and Nyatama in the battle for a regular spot.
 


UNFINISHED BUSINESS


Pirates are set to make their return to the most prestigious club competition on the African continent - the Caf Champions League.

The four-time PSL winners are expected to mount a serious challenge for the league title as well as the Caf Champions League title.

Jali left the club for Europe a few months after helping the Houghton-based side reach the 2013 Champions League final where they were defeated by formidable Egyptian club Al Ahly in an enthralling two-legged tie.

The former University of Pretoria midfielder had played an instrumental role in helping the team reach the final, but they had to settle for a second place finish.

Oostende snapped up Jali from Bucs at the time when he had won every domestic trophy with the Soweto giants, and he was now looking to test himself against some top players abroad.

The Matatiele-born player returned to South Africa hoping to win the only medal missing from his cabinet, which is the Caf Champions League gold medal.

So, rejoining a Pirates side which is gunning for the continental title would have made sense in order to achieve one of his career goals.

The Buccaneers are expected to go all the way in the competition under accomplished Serbian coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic and his highly-rated assistant Rulani Mokwena.

Micho guided Sudanese giants Al Hilal Omdurman to the 2011 Champions League semi-finals, while Mokwena was part of the Sundowns technical team which guided the Tshwane giants to the title two years ago.