Thabang Monare of Bidvest Wits (centre). Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES
Thabang Monare of Bidvest Wits (centre). Picture: ANESH DEBIKY/GALLO IMAGES

Mamelodi Sundowns star Andile Jali and Bidvest Wits’ Thabang Monare will set aside their friendship when the two teams meet in the Nedbank Cup semifinals at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

The two players are close friends off the pitch but this will be put aside when the showdown, which , marks the return of professional football after months of coronavirus-enforced inactivity, gets under way this weekend.

“Yes‚ we are very close friends and our rivalry on the field is healthy‚” said Monare as Wits prepare for a game that is part of a semifinal double-header at Orlando Stadium.

“It helps us to push each other so we can be the best we can be. We see it as part of pushing each other to the limits and competing against each other.”

Fans can look forward to an interesting contest between the two players if they are both selected as Monare does not intend to pull out of any challenges should he run into his good friend in the middle of the park.

“Because of the position we play‚ we can’t avoid each other on the field‚” he said.

“If there is a 50/50 situation during the match‚ I will go in to win the ball. That’s the way it is because we are competing for our teams.

“Last time he called me out on social media and it got the attention of football fans.

“It was the first time he took our little personal attacks on WhatsApp to the public. We always chatted on our WhatsApp group that includes other good friends Aubrey Ngoma and Lehlohonolo Majoro.

“It is a funny group and before matches they will be telling us how they are going to smash us and we will be doing the same.”

The tension is clearly building ahead of the eagerly awaited encounter as Monare revealed  they have not said much about the game in their conversations.

“We haven’t really discussed the game, but deep down we do know that we will be coming against each other. There is always that talk about us whenever Sundowns play against Wits, and this time is no different‚” he said.

“I know that he [Jali] wants to win and I also want to win. I have not won against him and I am dying to beat him because he will never hear the end of it.

“It is the same with him when Sundowns have beaten us — he talks about it a lot to try to get to me. That is also part of the motivation and he will not hear the end of it if we win on Saturday.”

The league programme will resume on Tuesday with the crunch clash between Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Dobsonville Stadium.

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