Shabalala hoping for injury-free stay at Usuthu

New AmaZulu signing Nhlanhla Shabalala is a seasoned Absa Premiership campaigner, but one that has been hit hard by injuries in recent seasons, and he is hoping his move from Ajax Cape Town will help kickstart his career once again.

The 28-year-old was brought in by Usuthu during the current transfer window and the midfielder is expected to provide some quality depth to coach Craig Rosslee's arsenal.

Shabalala has featured in just three games for his former club this season, while playing only 28 times, mainly as a substitute, in the previous three campaigns as knee injuries took their toll.

Now he is hoping a change of setting will help transform his career.

"I have been unfortunate over the years with the injuries," he said. "It's something you cannot predict.

"It happened, but there were also some stages when I was fit and played some really good football.

"Right now I can't look too much at the past because as we speak, I'm in the greatest shape of my life. We've been working very hard for the last two weeks and I feel good, I feel I'm on par.

"You can never know what's going to happen. What I can promise is that I will give 110 per cent in everything that I do and hopefully stay injury free."

Born in the famous Free State farm town of Villiers - a close by-pass town on the N3 - he has spent most of his prime football years in Cape Town where he won two cups with his ex-team.

But he concedes that the time was right to move.

"I'd been at Ajax for 13 years, 11 of those in the PSL and the other two with the development team," he said. "It's something I thought about long and hard.

"You know when you're in one place for a long time you tend to be complacent. You're used to the surroundings, you use to relax, you don’t challenge yourself anymore.

"I felt I was probably at that stage, so moving was something I thought about long and hard. Coming here is a new challenge as well and I'm looking forward to it."

Shabalala, who worked with coach Rosslee during his time as a coach at Ajax, admitted there was also uncertainty over whether he would have been offered a new deal at the club with his current one due to expire at the end of the season.

"It could have happened or it couldn’t have," he explained. "But what's more important is that I'm here now, I'm happy and we're looking forward to the future."

He has high hopes for his new team too and wants to be more than just another number.

"I hope to contribute and help take this team to another level," he added. "I hope my presence here makes a difference and I don’t disappoint.

"I believe that whatever you do in life, winning is the most important thing. I am here because this is an ambitious team and I hope to create and leave a legacy with this team. This is quite exciting for me and I hope it will be a great journey."

Shabalala could make his debut against Orlando Pirate