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Mamelodi Sundowns combative midfielder Andile Jali is a man of a few words, but he has come out of his shell to spur on his teammates ahead of their Premier Soccer League match against Royal AM at Loftus on Wednesday.
Log leaders Sundowns have dropped six points in their past five matches and Jali, who is one of the standout performers in the league, wants them to return to their winning ways.
On Saturday night the Brazilians were held to a 1-1 draw by spirited Stellenbosch, but the share of the spoils did not come at a huge cost as they still enjoy an eight-point lead at the top of the pile.
“We have been waiting to play this game. We know it is important for us because we lost two points against Stellenbosch at the weekend,” said Jali.
“Coming into this game, we are highly motivated and everyone is willing to fight like we did at the start of the season when some players got individual awards.
“Players getting individual awards shows spirit is very high in camp and it is not only one person who does the job.”
Third-placed Royal AM also come into this match on the back of an inconsistent recent run of results with two draws, two wins and one loss, but Jali said they remain a strong side.
“We know what they are capable of, we know what they are coming here to do and we are prepared to face them in our own backyard. They will be out there to do their best because they have shown that against other big teams.
“Everyone wants to prove they can play good football against Sundowns and because of that we are always expected to be at our very best against any team.”
Jali, who will come face to face with Lantshene Phalane in the heart of the midfield, has identified attackers Victor Letsoalo and Kabelo Mahlasela as Royal AM’s danger men.
“We know Letsoalo has been scoring the goals and we have to be careful with their speed going forward. We know they have a good player like Mahlasela in the middle of the park and we must take care of them.”
Jali has been impressive during his 14 appearances and one goal in all competitions and he credits Sundowns’ blistering start to good team spirit.
“When the mood is good in the team, everyone backs each other. I am doing my best to guide the youngsters and we are working with what we get from the coaches.
“The thing about us is that we want to win, we want to achieve everything that we have set ourselves to do here in the PSL and a positive result in this game will help us to open the gap at the top of the log.”
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.