SA players more athletic, says AmaZulu’s Kiwi Andre de Jong, Newsline

DURBAN – Since moving to AmaZulu in July 2019, Andre de Jong is enjoying life in South Africa. Prior to moving to South Africa, the 24-year-old had a number of stints with clubs in his native New Zealand.

“One of my football ambitions has always been to play professionally and I heard good things about the level of the South African league, so when the opportunity came up it was attractive to me,” De Jong said.

I was contacted by On the Ball Sports Management here and they made the move possible and have been brilliant in helping me with the transition.

De Jong alluded to the fact that the Premiership is gaining more awareness in New Zealand. He is in regular contact with fellow New Zealander Dan Morgan who plays for Maritzburg United.

Other Kiwis who have tasted success in the Premiership in recent years are striker Jeremy Brockie and defender Michael Boxall.

The attacker added that it is difficult to compare the standards of football in New Zealand to South Africa as New Zealand does not yet have a fully professional league.

“The better teams in New Zealand try and play a possession-based style of football and are tactically quite astute, but the South African players are more athletic and probably technically better,” he said.

Over here the game is very quick and end to end whereas in New Zealand, the game is slower but with a bigger importance placed on tactics.“

He has found it easy to adapt to SA and stayed with former AmaZulu teammate Michael Morton during the national lockdown earlier this year.

“The people are very friendly and the club has been great in helping me settle and I have made some terrific friends. Morton and his family were a massive help in helping me stay sane and getting through the difficult period,” De Jong said.

New AmaZulu chairman Sandile Zungu has set the club a target of finishing in the top four of the Premiership this season.

The four-times capped New Zealand international is looking forward to the challenge.

“It is exciting for the club that the new ownership have such high ambitions and have made this clear through their activity in the transfer market,” he said.

There is a lot of competition in the squad and everyone will be doing their best to realize the ambitions of the owners. We all want to make AmaZulu the pride of Durban. I will be trying my best to contribute and help the team reach these ambitions,” De Jong said.

In the international game, De Jong’s target is to continue winning selection for New Zealand and to help his country qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.