Tshabalala played at the but only broke through to the senior team after spells with and Free State Stars. Before the start of the 2007–08 season Paors bought back their own product and Tshabalala was used as the team’s first-choice left-wing. During the 2008–09 pre-season, coach Muhsin Ertugral began to occasionally employ the left-footer in the centre of the midfield.
He made his national team debut in a friendly against Egypt on 14 January 2006.
On 11 June 2010, gaining his 50th cap for South Africa, he scored the first goal of the 2010 FIFA World Cup against Mexico in the 55th minute. The game went on to finish at a 1–1 draw. The goal later received a nomination for goal of the year by FIFA.