Jali to play in Uefa Cup

Af­ter spate of in­juries, KV Oos­tende player on the hunt for sign­ing to a big­ger league

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI in Uyo, Nige­ria ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

Bafana Bafana mid­fielder Andile Jali will play in the Uefa Europa Cup for the first time next sea­son af­ter three and a half years in Bel­gium. This af­ter his club KV Oos­tende ex­er­cised an op­tion to re­new his con­tract for a fur­ther year, de­spite the player feel­ing he was ready to move to a big­ger league.

His side has qual­i­fied for the Uefa Europa Cup, giv­ing the player a chance to show­case his tal­ent to a big­ger au­di­ence and hope that clubs will vie for his sig­na­ture.

The stocky player told City Press in Nige­ria that he al­most signed for Leeds United last sea­son, but Bafana’s lowly Fifa rank­ing (they are cur­rently 65th in the world) scup­pered the deal and he could not se­cure a work per­mit in Eng­land.

He said he has also been on the verge of sign­ing for a Chi­nese club, but that agree­ment fell through af­ter the club owner sold his com­pany, ex­haust­ing the club’s cof­fers.

Jali is, how­ever, not dis­ap­pointed that the moves did not ma­te­ri­alise and says he will work hard to se­cure a move in the near fu­ture.

The player says he is start­ing to en­joy life in Bel­gium af­ter his spate of in­juries.

Jali has suf­fered shoul­der, an­kle and ham­string in­juries in his three years in Bel­gium, but says he is over them and is ready to un­leash his true po­ten­tial.

He says he is frus­trated by a lack of ac­tion, even though he is back to full strength.

“It’s good to be back af­ter so long not be­ing able to play a full 90 min­utes. It was not nice, espe­cially as it was cold, but I had to sol­dier on.”

In April, the last time Jali played for Bafana, there were con­cerns about his weight, but the 27-year-old de­nies he put on ex­tra ki­los.

“I don’t have weight is­sues,” he said. “It’s just that peo­ple had not seen me for a long time and they started talk­ing. But that didn’t bother me at all as I knew it was not the case. If that was the case, my club would have told me to work on it.”

He says he likes Bel­gium and the peo­ple there, adding that he will stick around for another sea­son and see what hap­pens.

The for­mer Or­lando Pi­rates star player, who has been linked with a move to Mamelodi Sun­downs, says com­ing back home was not an op­tion at this stage.

He says he would like to stay in Europe for another three years be­fore re­turn­ing home.

“Some­times loy­alty doesn’t pay the bills, so money talks. If I get more money at home, then I will con­sider that.”

He says his game im­proved dras­ti­cally since he moved to Bel­gium, ex­cept for shoot­ing.

“You know I have been fined five or six times for not shoot­ing at goals, but for pass­ing the ball to my team-mates in­stead.” he re­vealed. He had one goal and five as­sists last sea­son.

He wishes South Africans knew that play­ing in Europe was not as easy as it seemed.

“There are lot of chal­lenges and the con­di­tions are not nice. Peo­ple must un­der­stand that we, as South Africans, are not as hun­gry as oth­ers from other parts of the con­ti­nent be­cause there’s still lux­ury at home. Some­times we have to push our­selves. No one will if we don’t.”

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACK­PAGEPIX

BUSY Andile Jali while train­ing with Bafana this week

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