JOHANNESBURG – Andile Jali finally put pen to paper on Friday on a five-year deal to join Absa Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
“I feel good to have signed for Sundowns,” Jali said shortly after posing for a picture with coach Pitso Mosimane.
“At last, this deal is done. It’s been dragging for a long time. Now I can relax before the season starts. I have recovered from the injury, I am good to go.
“I passed the medicals. Now I am ready for Sundowns to tell me when to come to training.”
The Bafana Bafana star moved back to South Africa as a free agent, having terminated his contract with Belgium club KV Oostende on mutual consent.
Jali, 28, had joined them from Orlando Pirates more than four years ago and enjoyed quite a successful spell there, but was desperate to return home to spend more time with his family.
Reports had linked him with his former club Pirates, with chairman Irvin Khoza confirming that the Buccaneers were keen to welcome him back.
Their Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs were also said to be eager to lure him to Naturena as they attempt to strengthen the team following three barren seasons.
But Jali has chosen Sundowns.
“I didn’t come back to South Africa to relax and just say that I am done because I am coming from Europe,” Jali said. “I came to South Africa to win things, not to just relax and say that I am done. That’s why I came to Sundowns.
“I am here to show that I have that ‘thing’, to push other players to say that guys you can do it. I have learned a lot of things from my time in Belgium, especially how you bounce back from losing a game.
“At last this deal is done, it’s been a long process but I’m relieved and I can relax before the season starts!” AJ pic.twitter.com/L15usqMhfG
“You mustn’t lose hope until it’s done and you achieve your objective.”
Sundowns are currently on a pre-season break, and return to action when they face Togolese outfit AS Togo-Port on July 17.
Jali still lacks a bit of match fitness, having recently recovered from an injury that ended his final season in Belgium early, subsequently cutting short the remainder of his contract.
He returned home to do rehab and will look to get match fit to compete with captain Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Oupa Manyisa and others in midfield.
It will be another reunion for Jali and Manyisa, who were once called the ‘militant midgets’ during Pirates’ treble winning years in 2011 and 2012.