- Jali has stopped training with Downs
- Brazilians have entered crucial stage in Caf CL
- Khanye explains why they now need Jali back
WHAT HAPPENED? Jali has stopped training with Masandawana amid allegations of ill-discipline as well as frustrations over the delay in signing a new contract. The 32-year-old’s Sundowns contract is expiring on June 30 but discussions for a new deal have not yielded anything.
Since featuring in Sunsdowns' 3-2 win over Richards Bay in the Nedbank Cup on February 2, Jali has not played for the Brazilians again. After stopping training, rumours that he could be signed by Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Cape Town City, who are reportedly interested in him.
But Khanye sees it as a mistake to keep Jali frozen out as Sundowns enters the crucial stage of their season.
WHAT KHANYE SAID: “Sundowns needed Jali and now Rhulani [Mokwena] must think ahead. Not that I support what Jali did and Sundowns are good but in this tournament one mistake you will get punished,” said Khanye as per iDiski Times.
“You need Andile Jali because this is another level, you need experience. There was a lapse in concentration against Al Hilal so Sundowns needs experience. In games like that one Jali would have come in and bullied the midfield. Yes, [Teboho] Mokoena is talented, a young South African diamond, he is 24, he has room for improvement and he is still going to play more matches.
“If you want to win this tournament you need Jali. Sundowns is still going to face Al Ahly in the knockouts [should they qualify] and they need Jali. Yes, Sundowns scored five [vs Al Ahly] but the knockouts are going to be a different ball game. They might even meet in the final and we don’t even know where that final will be hosted but it will be a different ball game.
“So put in Andile Jali now, even in the DStv Premiership so that he gets his fitness back. Then you can have both him and Mokoena play together in this tournament. Jali can play box-to-box, while the boy plays number six to simplify things.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Since winning their maiden Champions League title in 2016, Sundowns have failed to play to their potential in the knock-out phase. In recent seasons they have endured quarter-final exits after enjoying terrific runs in the group phase. They reached the semi-finals once more but the elite continental club title continues to elude them.
Now Jali is back in the headlines as they need to focus on the knockouts. Being in the final months of his Masandawana deal, the veteran midfielder can sign a pre-contract with his reported suitors.
WHAT NEXT FOR JALI? In recent days, there has been no update on Jali. The season could end with him back at training, but he might also not return.