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Andile Jali to Kaizer Chiefs as Njabulo Blom replacement: Do it, Zwane!

10:49 AM EST 1/24/23
Andile Jali, Arthur Zwane
Arthur Zwane would be missing a major opportunity if he doesn’t swoop for the experienced Andile Jali from Mamelodi Sundowns.

It may not be a stretch to say that Arthur Zwane’s Kaizer Chiefs career could depend on his ability to recruit Andile Jali from Mamelodi Sundowns over the next seven days.

The stars appear aligned for the ex-Orlando Pirates midfielder to complete a hat-trick of playing for the big three in South African soccer, with talk intensifying that he could be Naturena-bound before the transfer window closes.

Jali has arguably been underused by Rhulani Mokwena in his bloated Sundowns squad, with the veteran not even starting the weekend’s PSL blockbuster against Chiefs.

The Brazilians ran out 1-0 winners, but they didn’t exert as much midfield control over the contest as they can when Jali is present, and some moments of sloppiness served as reminders of just what the experienced head can contribute when he is on the field.

There are indications that Jali isn’t too happy with his current situation at the reigning champions, not least his agent Mike Makaab urging the club to let him and his client know if they “don’t want Andile.”

With no new contract apparently in the offing for Jali at Sundowns, he’s set to be a free agent in June, but Chiefs would be wise to make a move for the midfielder during the ongoing window, where they would likely be able to recruit him for a cut-price fee.

At 32, he is far from finished, and would still have a great deal to offer Chiefs both on and off the field.

Sundowns fans joke that Jali is the club’s fourth assistant coach, such is his influence behind the scenes, and this is exactly the kind of experience and track record that Zwane could benefit from day in, day out as he looks to mastermind Chiefs’ revival.

There’s no doubt that Zwane, a rookie coach, is struggling at Chiefs. They’ve lost three league games on the bounce for only the second time since 2012, including a ravaging by AmaZulu and that loss to lowly Sekhukhune United.

With influential midfielder Njabulo Blom departing for Major League Soccer, the Amakhosi have found themselves short in the middle of the park.

For all his talent, youngster Samkelo Zwane isn’t the answer right now, but imagine what he could learn and how he could develop if he were training alongside ex-Oostende man Jali week in, week out.

Zwane appears open to the idea, having indicated as such earlier this month.

“If we get another good defensive midfielder, why not, we’ll bring him on board, there’s no doubt about it,” he told journalists.

Could that man be Jali?

Jali arriving at Chiefs would help the club replace the influence lost with the exit of Blom and could even arrest their recent struggles.

With the pressure increasing on Zwane weekly, the question isn’t whether Chiefs can afford to sign Jali, but whether they can afford not to.