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Itumeleng Khune is ‘far from finished’ at Kaizer Chiefs

04 February 2021 - 14:15 By mahlatse mphahlele
Itumeleng Khune during the Nedbank Cup Last 32 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Royal Eagles on February 8 2020 at FNB Stadium, Soweto.
Itumeleng Khune during the Nedbank Cup Last 32 match between Kaizer Chiefs and Royal Eagles on February 8 2020 at FNB Stadium, Soweto.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is far from “finished” and must stay at Naturena to fight for his place in Amakhosi’s starting line-up as the season gains momentum‚ goalkeeping experts have said.

The 33-year old Khune has lost his status as the undisputed No 1 for Amakhosi and Bafana but goalkeeping experts William “Cool-Kat” Shongwe and Alejandro “Alex” Heredia insist that he still has a lot to offer the game.

Shongwe and Heredia‚ who coached Khune during his highly successful career‚ were sharing their opinions on what the future holds for the much-loved goalkeeper who has lost his place at Chiefs on the back of some injury-plagued seasons.

There is concern among Chiefs fans as to what the future holds for Khune as he has not been included in the match squad for their last seven matches in the league with Bruce Bvuma deputising for Daniel Akpeyi.

The last time Khune played for Chiefs was in the 2-1 DStv Premiership loss to SuperSport United in December and this season he has made only eight appearances in all competitions‚ including the Caf Champions League‚ and just six domestically.

“I refuse to believe that Khune is finished‚ he is far from being finished because goalkeepers mature with time‚” said legendary Chiefs goalkeeper Shongwe. “He has been in the wars with Chiefs and the national teams for far too long and he is experienced enough. He needs to be refreshed mentally so that he is hungry again and I am certain that he will back to it‚” said Shongwe.

Shongwe’s sentiments were shared by Fifa and Caf goalkeeper training instructor Heredia‚ who worked with Khune for the national team.

“No‚ no‚ no‚ I don’t think he is finished at all. What he needs at the moment is to work smart so that he can push his way back into the team. He played in a couple of matches this season and definitely made mistakes but those mistakes don’t mean that he is suddenly a bad goalkeeper and he is finished.”

Shongwe agreed with Heredia that Khune doesn’t need to leave Chiefs to seek playing time elsewhere.

“He must stay there and keep on working hard. How many goalkeepers have been in his position in the past. In this business of goalkeepers you need to exercise a lot of patience‚” the ex-Chiefs keeper said.

“This is the advice that I gave to Rowen Fernandez‚ the late Senzo Meyiwa and a number of other goalkeepers who consulted me in the past.

“My advice to him is that leaving is not going to help even if right now it may seem the better or preferred option. As hard as it is right now that he is not playing‚ the temptation to leave will always be there but does he have the courage to leave Chiefs‚ because there is emotional attachment to Chiefs?

“You can also imagine the huge reaction of the fans if it were to come out that Khune is leaving Chiefs. There is so much attachment and sentiment around Chiefs and Khune.

Heredia added: “He doesn’t need to leave because he has a close personal attachment to the club. He has been there for a long time and he commands a lot of respect there.

“Not playing regularly as a professional at any age is a handicap but he needs to stay there and continue to work quietly behind the scenes.”

Shongwe and Heredia were also united in their assessment that Khune should also earn his recall to Bafana.

“I don’t think his Bafana career is over but for obvious reasons he can’t be selected now‚” Shongwe said.

“Anybody who mentions his name around Bafana will be making a big mistake and that’s why‚ in as far as that is concerned‚ let him relax. I believe he will bounce back and I believe he can reclaim his No 1 spot at Bafana — but not now.”

Heredia said: “I don’t think right now he can come back to Bafana. He needs to play regularly to be considered for the national team again and at the moment the gap is too big between him and Ronwen Willians and Wayne Sandilands‚ who are playing regularly and we can see them in the PSL.”

Chiefs meet GladAfrica Championship Richards Bay FC in the Last 32 of the Nedbank Cup at FNB Stadium on Sunday.