The former Orlando Pirates player, now based at KV Oostende in Belgium, usually operates deeper in central midfielder.
But in the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso, he was somewhat surprisingly pushed further forward to provide support to lone forward Percy Tau.
Having taken a while to settle into the new role, Jali’s influence on the game increased and he set up Themba Zwane with a delightful through-ball for the second goal.
“I looked at this game when I did my analysis and I felt very strongly that Andile Jali was the right one to have as the No 10,” Baxter was reported saying by TimesLive.
“I could have gone with Sibusiso Vilakazi, Keagan Dolly or Lebogang Manyama.
“But when I’d seen Burkina Faso play, they kept tight lines and it was difficult getting the ball between them. And if you got the ball between the lines you needed to pass quickly.
“And I think that’s Andile. Once we started knowing where he was going to be and getting him on the ball in that transition phase, then the movement of Tau came into play and the movement of Zwane and even Vilakazi, driving in with the ball and allowing the fullbacks out wide.
“I think the players made it happen. And in our attacking play I thought we got what we wanted,” Baxter added.
The win took South Africa to four points in Group D, four points behind leaders Senegal, whom Bafana play home and away in early November.
Jali will however miss the first match due to suspension after accumulating two yellow cards in the qualifiers.