Siphiwe Tshabalala squashes retirement talk, up for AmaZulu task
DURBAN - New AmaZulu recruit Siphiwe Tshabalala feels that his club’s target of a top four finish this season “will be difficult but can be achieved”.
The Durban club’s chairman Sandile Zungu has set the squad an ambitious task of finishing in the top four as well as delivering sustained runs in the Cup competitions in the upcoming season.
Businessman Zungu recently took over the ownership of Usuthu from another KwaZulu-Natal business tycoon Patrick Sokhela.
Tshabalala, who scored in Bafana Bafana's opening game against Mexico during the 2010 World Cup, is understandably cautious about promising instant success for Usuthu but fully commits to making sure that his experience counts.
“One the first day of the season, we play against Orlando Pirates and then we have another game a few days later. It will be a tough season and I definitely think that the guys are up to it. We strive as top players by being up against the best clubs and being tested,” said the former Bafana international (90 caps).
The former Kaizer Chiefs star had been inactive from professional football for more than a year before signing for AmaZulu, leading to speculation that he would retire from the game.
Tshabalala said that retirement was never on his mind, adding that he had offers to play abroad. He also played down suggestions that his hiatus from football could lead to him struggling with fitness.
“I’ve been working hard. I’ve done individual training and trained a lot to make sure that I’m in good physical condition. I’m here because I want to be here and not because I have to be here. It will be a challenge as I’m coming to a team which has been struggling for the past six-seven seasons. It’s a challenge for me and I’m up for it,” he said, adding that he will only retire from football after “waking up with a sad face and back pains”.
With over 15-years of South African top-flight experience under his belt, Tshabalala will not only be expected to add quality in the final third for AmaZulu, but also to bring a winning mentality to the club, something which it has lacked for almost three decades.
Usuthu have not won a major tournament since claiming the Coca-Cola Cup (now Telkom Knockout Cup) in 1992.
While the signing of Tshabalala will give fans something to cheer about, the veteran cannot realistically be expected to play for the club on a long-term basis, and that is something that he is mindful of.
“We know that football is short-lived. There is certainly life after football, that may be the real life. I have plans in place. There is a solid Simphiwe Tshabalala foundation which has been doing great work and we have big plans in our programmes of youth development, sporting education and making the next generation better than us,” he said.