Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Shabba and Spider set for Palace's Bafana revolution?

They say all good news comes in pairs but if things go to plan, Crystal Palace could have three Bafana Bafana internationals on their books before too long.

Destined to be forever known as the player who scored the first goal of 2010 World Cup after a slide-rule pass from Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala arrived in the UK on Wednesday in the hope of resuming the partnership permanently in south London.

So far, all parties have maintained their silence since the news was broken by a statement from the 27-year-old's club Kaizer Chiefs earlier this week. But a conversation with Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune - also said to be wanted on trial by Dougie Freedman in the statement - confirmed that 'Shabba' will begin his 10-day trial on Thursday morning.

He could hardly have picked a better time to arrive. With the Carling Cup semi-final against Cardiff City to come and rumours linking prized assets Wilfried Zaha and Nathaniel Clyne with moves in the January transfer window, Tshabalala has a real opportunity to show he is worth the risk of a tranfser fee that is likely to be considerably less than the 1.5 million euros Chiefs had previously been holding out for.

A failed trial at Nottingham Forest last year will certainly have lessened expectations, while persistent injury problems are also a big problem. On his day, though, Tshabalala is capable of unlocking the best of defences with his pace and trickery and possesses excellent delivery from set-pieces thanks to that famous left foot.

Bafana team-mate Morgan Gould also had a chance to join Palace in the summer but was undone by his lack of experience. That shouldn't be a problem for a player who has captained his country several times and amassed more than 70 caps already, yet a lack of physical strength may be found out in the rough and tumble of the Championship.

Remarkably, there's even the prospect of another Bafana player joining Tshabalala and Dikgacoi in south London. Khune seemed in the dark about any details of his proposed trial but admitted he had been following Palace's progress this season because of Dikgacoi, saying he had particularly enjoyed the win over Manchester United in the Carling Cup quarter-final.

Whether he gets the opportunity remains to be seen, especially given Julian Speroni's untouchable status as Freedman's first-choice. At 24, 'Spiderkid' still has plenty of time to make a move to Europe and prove he is capable of living up to the praise of Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel lavished on him after last summer's tour to South Africa.

"He’s not that tall but you can see the spring he has in his legs, that makes up for it and I think he can be able to manoeuvre himself around the goal just fine," said the US veteran.

"The thing that stands out is his distribution. It’s outstanding for such a young guy - at 24, he is still very young for a goalkeeper and as long as he keeps working hard he can only get better and better." 

And after beating Chiefs 3-2 as they became the first foreign club to play in South Africa following their readmittance to Fifa in July 1992, it would be apt for another two of the country's most popular current players to end up in the red and blue of Crystal Palace.

No comments:

Post a Comment