jali gets his ticket to ride

HE was courted by other Absa Premiership clubs but Andile Jali ended up in Parktown.

HE was courted by other Absa Premiership clubs but Andile Jali ended up in Parktown.

He has joined Orlando Pirates and is in seventh heaven.

The hugely talented midfielder, who has signed a rare five-season contract with Bucs, was unveiled at the weekend.

Jali impressed Pirates' technical staff with his virtuoso display in the Nedbank Cup where he steered his former team, University of Pretoria, to the final of South Africa's football version of the FA Cup.

"To say I'm happy to have signed for a team of Pirates' stature would be an understatement," the 19-year old told Sowetan blithely.

"There have been a number of teams in the PSL who were eager to sign me but I always wanted to be a Pirates' player. I know what would be required of me at Pirates and I have everything that would be required of me to deliver at Pirates.

"I would not have agreed to join them if I doubted my potential. I have great respect for Pirates coach [Rudi Krol] and I know that I will learn a great deal from him. We have to win the championship next season and also do well on the continent," added the national Under-20 player.

Francesco Ferreira of Prosport International, the company that handles Jali, said it was the player's wish to board the Buccaneers' ship.

"Despite offers from other clubs he refused to consider them because the boy just wanted to be a Pirates' player. I'm happy that Pirates gave him a good offer," Ferreira said.

Pirates' administrator Floyd Mbele described Jali's acquisition as part of "our concert efforts to solidify the team".

"We will not rest until we attain our goal of having best players for the new season," said Mbele, who spoke with affection about Jali.

Jali is the third player to have been unveiled by Pirates in less than a week after the Buccaneers' confirmed the recruitment of Gert Schalkwyk and Ndumiso Mabena.