JOHANNESBURG – Despite the overwhelming pressure to deliver in the PSL due to the sterling status of his countrymen, New Zealander Andre de Jong is determined to run his own race.
Following impressive exploits for Eastern Suburbs in the New Zealand Premiership last season, De Jong made his way to the PSL to join AmaZulu for the 2019/20 term. He joins a list of Kiwis that have spent memorable spells in the elite league of South African football.
During the 2015/16 season, SuperSport United made the headlines for signing New Zealand duo Michael Boxall and Jeremy Brockie. It was, however, the latter that made the headlines in the Premiership - inspiring SuperSport to the CAF Confederations Cup final in 2017. Brockie joined crosstown rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in January last year but he’s been battling to replicate that mesmeric form from SuperSport. De Jong, however, is drawing inspiration from the Kiwis that had made their mark in the PSL.
“Obviously it will take a bit of time (to adjust). But the boys and the coaching staff have been really doing well in settling me in,” de Jong said. “I’ll try to contribute to the team by scoring goals. And I am hoping that the form of scoring goals back in New Zealand, I can bring it over to South Africa. I also want to contribute in assisting and defending.
The Kiwis who have come here have done well in the past, and I’d love to emulate that but I’ll see how it goes and hopefully I can have a (positive) effect on the club.”
65' @MsunduziCup Score Update: Maritzburg United 1-2 AmaZulu FC. Vilakazi 52'— AmaZulu FC (@AmaZuluFootball) July 20, 2019
The boys in green launched a counter from Andre de Jong who passed to Ncobeni. JB layed off an excellent pass to captain Nhlanhla Vilakazi who calmly slotted the ball into the net.#Usuthu_Unite pic.twitter.com/CruDpyDOyS
Despite aiming to make his own legacy in the Premiership, De Jong has been impressed by the influence that compatriot Brockie has had on South African football.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be on the same national team tour with Brocs,” De Jong acknowledged. “He went really well in South Africa. He’s a lovely and quite a funny guy.”
However, the effect that Emiliano Tade had at AmaZulu last season has De Jong hoping to emulate the same feat. Tade was signed by Usuthu from New Zealand side Auckland City last season. At Usuthu, the Argentine went on to be an integral figure at the team - scoring five goals in 16 league appearances. Tade’s impressive exploits went on to catch the attention of Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane.
“I’ve been speaking at lot with Emiliano, we’ve actually played in the same league back in New Zealand,” he said. “It was different teams but we’ve actually spoke after the matches. He’s got a good football brain and he was lucky enough to come here and score a lot of goals.
He’s had a good effect on the team and hopefully having that kind of effect would be amazing but just contributing would be good for the team.”
Something new is coming! Are you ready for the launch of the new AmaZulu FC jerseys?— AmaZulu FC (@AmaZuluFootball) July 22, 2019
Just 2 more days to go. pic.twitter.com/ZNeYomL3vR
De Jong will be hoping to hit the top gear from outset when AmaZulu open their Premiership campaign against Bidvest Wits on August 3.
Moreover, he’s likely to have a seamless adaptation in the PSL, especially being in the company of Lehlohonolo Majoro, who was signed from Bidvest Wits, and Bonginkosi Ntuli.@Mihlalibaleka