It was consolation really following a second successive season that ended in disappointment for him – his club Kaizer Chiefs failing to win anything. To rub it in, unintentionally of course, were Gavin Hunt and Moeneeb Josephs, the Bidvest Wits coach and goalkeeper duo who were adding yet another prize to their Absa Premiership title this season by collecting the Coach and Player of the Month (May) awards respectively at the same time.
Tshabalala could only reflect on a forgettable term, while Hunt and Josephs waxed lyrical about a historic feat. “Obviously I would have rather been here with my teammates than on my own to collect an individual award,” said midfielder Tshabalala, who, personally, enjoyed some milestones – scoring his 50th goal as well as playing his 300th match for the Glamour Boys, who sadly finished in fourth place.
“But I have to appreciate the award nonetheless. It is important to have a review and see where we went wrong and see where we can improve. Even the champions are going to have to do a review to see where they can lift their game.”
Tshabalala seemed to have come prepared, well aware that questions directed at him would not be about his sweetly struck goal for Chiefs in the 2-2 draw against SuperSport United on April 29 at the Mbombela Stadium. He’d be reminded of his club’s failures instead.
“I think we failed as a collective. This is not tennis or golf, so I can’t point out who didn’t play well and who did. I need to ask why I didn’t do enough and everyone else should ask themselves that same question as well,” he said.
“We have to dig deeper. This was a bad season and we have to go back to the drawing board. “It’s not going to be an offseason where you switch off completely.
“Yes, you can rest, but you need to know what is expected of you when you get back, especially as a senior player to pave the way for the young ones as well. From a form perspective, I think we still improved compared to the previous season (Chiefs came fifth and surrendered the title to Mamelodi Sundowns in coach Steve Komphela’s first season).
“In terms of winning silverware, there is a challenge there. We are very disappointed and we admit that we failed.”
Tshabalala would not say where the team needed to do better, but pointing out that Chiefs dropped points by conceding in the dying minutes of some crucial matches suggests he, like club chairman Kaizer Motaung, thinks the defence needs some stability.
The veteran midfielder added it was important to bring in fresh faces for competition for places – perhaps a few players are just too comfortable.
“The club will see who they want to bring in as it is the case every season and happens everywhere. It’s only fair. On our side (as players) we need to be professional about it. We need competition in the team and we need to strengthen,” Tshabalala explained.