Former AmaZulu marksman George Dearnaley has highlighted the influence which newly-signed forward Siphiwe ‘Shabba’ Tshabalala will have in the Usuthu dressing room.
The Durban-based club has been on a spending spree following a change of ownership and former Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana player Tshabalala was unveiled this week as one of 10 new arrivals, with others including Luvuyo Memela, Augustine Mulenga and Siphelele Mthembu.
Tshabalala is now 36-years-old and has not played since May 2019 for Turkish side BB Erzurumspor.
Dearnaley admits to having a bit of a concern over the player’s lengthy inactive period. In that respect, it will be crucial for the Usuthu technical team to manage Tshabalala’s game-time and steadily help him regain full match fitness.
But as Dearnaley points out, the former Free State Stars and Amakhosi winger’s influence will extend beyond the time he’s out on the pitch during matches.
“I don’t have a problem with his age, I’m more concerned that he hasn’t really been playing competitively for nearly 18 months,” the former Usuthu striker told IOL.
“He is an experienced player, a legend of South African football, and I think people underestimate the impact that players like this can have on the squad.
“This ranges from giving advice to young players at training, being under pressure in massive games, and sharing those experiences with the less experienced players and even giving the coaching staff some advice.
“It’s all of this that happens on the training field and in the dressing room – not just match performances – that makes him a great signing for the club.”
AmaZulu begin their league campaign against Orlando Pirates at Kings Park Stadium on Saturday night.
At this stage, it appears that Tshabalala is unlikely to start and may perhaps be limited to a cameo appearance off the bench, as head coach Ayanda Dlamini revealed in an interview with the Sowetan: “They joined us this week, and some of them, when it comes to fitness, are very behind. We know Shabba hasn’t played for some time now. So is Mthembu,” Dlamini said.