Jali Factfile: Career, Consistency and Goalscoring Ability
The Brazilians announced the signing of the Bafana Bafana international, who snubbed the chance to join Kaizer Chiefs in favour of Sundowns, seemingly due to his desire to challenge for silverware.
Andile Jali Factfile:
Full Name: Andile Ernest Jali
Date of Birth: 10 April 1990
Place of Birth: Matatiele, Eastern Cape
Nationality: South African
Playing Position: Central Midfield
Jali began the road to stardom with local youth clubs Hot Spurs and Matat Professionals between 2002 and 2007, when he eventually made his break into the professional divisions with University of Pretoria. Two impressive campaigns with AmaTuks paved the way to the big time when he was snapped up by Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates in 2009, and Jali's upward trajectory was only getting started.
What followed next at Pirates was five trophy-laden seasons where the playmaker helped dominate South Africa football during the club's unprecedented double-treble reign, which included Jali's own haul of two Absa Premiership titles, the Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout and MTN8 crowns, while he came agonisingly close to a CAF Champions League title after losing the 2013 final to Al Ahly.
The next step for Jali undoubtedly was Europe, with Belgian club, KV Oostende the big winners as they signed the talented midfielder for €1,000,000 (R15m) in 2014. It was in Belgium where Jali racked up over 100 appearances in the First Division A, although the best he could achieve with the club was a runner-up finish in the league in 2016/17.
Jali's three-year deal with Oostende did come with a two-year option, although it is one the midfielder opted to reject in favour of a return to South Africa, where Sundowns won the race for the sought-after player.
Jali's first taste of international football came at the Under-20 level, where he managed three appearances and scored one goal, drawing even more attention to himself from the Bafana staff.
Jali's big move to Pirates in 2009 was quickly followed by his first senior Bafana Bafana call-up the following year, where only a heart condition ruled him out of the final 23-man squad to stage that year's World Cup finals. Despite missing out on football's biggest stage, Jali has gone on honourably to represent his country 32 times.
Prior to 2018, Jali's scoring rate at international level was woeful at best, scoring only one goal every three years, before he finally cracked two strikes during Bafana's failed 2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign. His ratio hardly gets any better on the club stage, either, with just 14 goals in all competitions over the past eight years, coming at a rate of around one goal every 17.5 appearances, or one successful strike every 1,445 minutes.
That, then, represents arguably the only weapon missing from Jali's Arsenal, which is maybe something he could develop during his time at the free-scoring Brazilians.
Do you think Jali should be scoring more goals for club and country?