Jali is just not good enough
It is a debate that has resulted in many a squabble for months, ever since Gordon Igesund took over the reins as the Bafana Bafana head coach.
The dispute is regarding the continued exclusion of Andile Jali from the national team.
Many have accused Igesund of having a vendetta against the talented link-man, something which the Bafana mentor has quashed. The former Moroka Swallows boss says Jali is a good player but ‘not better’ than those he already has in his current squad. Jali’s competitors are the trio of Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Dean Furman and Kagiso Dikgacoi.
So far Furman and Letsholonyane haven’t put a foot wrong under Igesund’s tutelage while Dikgacoi has dished out some below par performances by the standards he set earlier. Jali sympathisers feel that Dikgacoi’s commitment is questionable and want Jali to take his place.
Despite a string of poor displays, Dikgacoi’s experience cannot be questioned.He played for English Premier League side Fulham and is now with Crystal Palace. He has also played for Bafana in a number of international competitions.
Andile Jali may just be 22 years old but he is a decorated player. He helped Orlando Pirates to a double treble. He made a handful of appearances for Bafana Bafana but was excluded from the 2010 Fifa World Cup due to a ‘mild heart condition’.
With Furman and Yeye at the top of their game, the question has been narrowed to form versus experience. As much as experience is essential in terms of building the foundation of a team, form is equally important.
The question of who you would rather have, Jali or Dikgacoi, is one which doesn’t deserve the air time it gets.
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone chose either Jali or Dikgacoi. They cannot be compared and swapped about for one another. While they are both midfielders who have central positions, the roles they have within their team’s systems are different. They have distinctive playing styles and varying attributes. This makes comparison between them futile.
If you compare Jali and Dikgacoi in terms of their honours achieved, then maybe the Pirates man pips the Crystal Palace star. Jali has helped Pirates to six trophies while Dikgacoi’s side, Palace, are fourth in England’s second-tier league.
Jali is the personification of the box-to-box midfielder. His drive and dynamism in the middle of the park is unsurpassed in the PSL.
Dikgacoi, on the other hand, is a player that I would not represent as a box-to-box midfielder for Bafana but he has a totally different role at club level. He formed a good partnership with Mile Jedinak in the middle of the park but his versatility means he can play anywhere across the middle, which has seen him among the scorers. While at times he may have been altered within the Palace system to play a more traditional central midfield role, he does possess a good engine to carry the team.
These differing styles, both physical and technical, result in each player carrying out a completely different role within their teams, compared to what Gordon Igesund wants at national level.
One must remember, though, that a national team coach picks players based on how he wants his team to play. Thus Jali might be great but he is just not good enough for the job that Gordon wants done.
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