Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has warned Siphiwe Tshabalala not to expect to simply walk back into his starting line-up when he returns from injury.
Tshabalala injured his knee during a pre-season friendly against Chippa United in Port Elizabeth on July 20, but was expected back with his Amakhosi teammates later in the week.
“Shabba’s slowly getting back into training. He may be fit within a week or so, but that would mean that he’s able to get selected, then he’s got to get himself back into the team,” Baxter said on Sunday.
“If the team is playing well, Shabba, the same as everybody else, knows that we’re going to make it as competitive as possible.”
The Bafana Bafana international had to watch from the stands as Chiefs thumped Mpumalanga Black Aces 4-0 in an MTN8 quarterfinal clash at FNB Stadium.
Mandla Masango replaced Tshabalala for a rare appearance and netted a second-half brace to see out a dominant display for the Glamour Boys.
“Shabba’s a top class player, I enjoy working with him but one, he’s got to get himself fit, and two, he’s got to get himself back into the team.”
Meanwhile, Baxter welcomed the Premier Soccer League’s decision to schedule all of Chiefs’ home games at the FNB Stadium for the upcoming season.
Last season Chiefs played four home games away from the iconic arena and were forced to travel to Durban and Polokwane to host AmaZulu, Free State Stars, Ajax Cape Town, and SuperSport United.
“When you start getting into the last five or six games, all that travelling, all those hours in the bus, all those hours on a plane, not only means that you’re travelling, but it also means that you’re not doing something else and that’s training,” Baxter said.
“Last season, in the last 15 weeks, I think I had two proper training sessions. This team needs to train and they need to go through our principles of play as often as possible.
“All the home games here means that that is probably an easier job.”
Chiefs open their 2014/15 league campaign with a tricky away tie against Free State Stars at Charles Mopeli Stadium on Saturday.
Their first Premiership home game of the season is against Bloemfontein Celtic on August 19. – Sapa