Shaba off to Steau

2010-07-24 00:00

BAFANA Bafana star Siphiwe Tshabalala’s imminent R5 million move to Romania has many people baffled and disapproving, but not Ted Dumitru.

Given the Kaizer Chiefs leftwinger’s heroics for Bafana during the World Cup, including his splendid goal against Mexico that was voted among the tournament’s top five, a move to a big league was envisaged.

Like a thief at night, though, Romanian giants Steau Bucharest have come out unexpectedly and put themselves forward as the leading candidates for Tshabalala’s signature, much to many football pundits’ and fans’ dismay. But not Dumitru.

Few would back Dumitru as the proper person to give fair assessment on Tshabalala’s move.

And it’s not because Tshabalala’s new employers hail fromBucharest, where the veteran coach was born 71 years ago.

Dumitru understands Tshabalala’s strengths and weakness, having plucked him from obscurity in the National First Division when the winger was playing for Free State Stars in 2005, to be part of Bafana’s squad that participated at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in 2006.

Since then “Shaba” has been part of all the national team’s major tournaments.

“Romania is good place for him [Tshabalala],” Dumitru toldWeekend Witness yesterday.

“Bucharest are the most successful team in Romania. They have played in many European competitions and have been league champions a record 23 times,” said Dumitru of the side that made history for being the first in eastern Europe to win the European Cup final in 1986.

Bucharest were also the Romanian club from which the legendary Gheorghe Hagi once emerged. The midfielder was instrumental in steering his country to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals in the United States and represented Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona in the 1990s.

“The sky is the limit for Siphiwe. The type of football there in Romania will suit him just fine,” Dumitru said. “They play with lot of skill; they are not only physical and fast.

“It’s going to be up to him to show how hungry he is to attract interest from big-league clubs. He’s still young and can make it,” added Dumitru.

Steau coach Victor Piturca was quoted as saying negotiations with Chiefs are complete and all that is left was to transfer the money to the club’s bank account, after which Tshabalala will get on a plane for the Romanian capital.

At Steau, Tshabalala will be in line to taste European club competition as Steau have qualified for the Uefa Europa League since they finished fourth in last season’s league race.

There are play-offs scheduled for next month with clubs like Aston Villa, Manchester City, FC Porto and PSV Eindhoven set to vie for qualification.

Dumitru was critical of Collins Mbesuma’s transfer to English Premiership side Portsmouth five seasons ago. The Zambian hitman had a fantastic 2004/05 season, netting 35 times for Chiefs under Dumitru.

The Romanian’s argument was that it was not time yet for Mbesuma to jump to the big league. He was vindicated later, with Mbesuma failing to make it and joining teams in Turkey and Portugal.

These days, Mbesuma is a shadow of his former self, battling to reproduce the magic at Mamelodi Sundowns and recently at Moroka Swallows.

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