AmaZulu must manage 'great signing’ Siphiwe Tshabalala
DURBAN - George Dearnaley is convinced that Siphiwe Tshabalala, 36, will have a lot to offer to AmaZulu this season, but thinks the former Kaizer Chiefs star cannot be expected to play in every game for the Durban outfit.
Dearnaley earned himself the nickname “Sgebengu” from AmaZulu fans for sneaking in goals during the club’s most successful season in 1992.
He sees Tshabalala’s role extending beyond just his contribution with the ball.
“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,” said the 51-year-old Dearnaley, who added that fans will be disappointed if they expect Tshabalala to dazzle the opposition every week with fantastic runs and scoring his trademark goals.
“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.”
In addition to signing Tshabalala, AmaZulu bolstered their arsenal with the acquisition of experienced campaigners Luvuyo Memela, 33, Augustine Mulenga, 30, and Siphelele Mthembu, 33.
Though the trio are all proven players in the Premiership, they are all over 30 years of age and arguably past their prime.
Other veterans in the squad include Tsepo Masilela, 35, and Lehlohonolo Majoro, 34.
Dearnaley sees benefit for the club boasting the experienced campaigners as he believes that it has one of the best youth development systems in the country, hence the younger players can benefit from the knowledge of the veterans.
“Obviously when you sign a few over 30s, the critics will come out in full force,” he said.
“The difference is that AmaZulu have a great youth policy, probably one of the best in the country. I don’t see anything wrong with adding experienced players to a very good youth programme. I just hope that the club will still give opportunities to the young players.”
Dearnaley believes that it is now essential for the club to create solid team cohesion.
“I think that the new owner (Sandile Zungu) is keen to show the supporters that he means business and a few signings is a quick way to do this.
The important thing is for the coach to integrate the new signings into the squad and get everyone on the same page very quickly and to have a good start to the season,” said Dearnaley.