JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns’ co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi has explained the reason behind the appointment of midfielder Andile Jali as the captain during their 3-0 win over Golden Arrows in the second leg of the MTN8 semi-final at home on Tuesday night.
With designated captains Denis Onyango, Mosa Lebusa and Rivaldo Coetzee ruled out of the encounter due to niggling injuries, Jali was appointed the leader of the day. He aced his duties to the tee, bagging the Man of the Match accolade.
But what was important for Jali, who hasn’t been a regular this season, was that Sundowns got the much-needed results on the day as they came out victorious by 4-1 on aggregate to progress to the MTN8 final for the first time since 2016.
Sundowns went into the game with a goal advantage after their 1-1 draw away. But two quick goals in the first half from the in-form Peter Shalulile and former Arrows' player Divine Lunga ensured that Neo Maema's late strike was a cherry on top.
“AJ stood his ground. He showed his experience today. He was the captain of the team today and he didn’t disappoint. And for him to get the Man of the Man award, it was worthwhile. And we are happy with that,” Mngqithi said after the game.
“To be honest it wasn’t an easy decision. We had too many candidates for the armband. But we felt that we needed a soldier, somebody who can push the team. It was important for us to go into this match, compete and get a win at the end of the day.”
Mngqithi continued: “And there was no better person (than Jali) to make sure that he pushes the team. He did that very well. And we were very excited to see him perform the way he did as the captain. But we had too many players to choose from.”
Sundowns have not won the MTN8 since it was renamed 14 years ago. But after winning multiple championships, they'll be eager to finally land the cup when they face Swallows FC or Cape Town City in the final late next month – October 30.