Three-month injury break was tough, goalkeeper says
ITUMELENG Khune needed to be back playing at a delicate phase in his career, the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper said yesterday.
Speaking ahead of Chiefs’ Nedbank Cup last-16 match against Black Leopards at FNB Stadium tomorrow, Khune said the three months he spent out injured this season were the toughest phase in his career.
The goalkeeper’s absence coincided with his protracted negotiations to renew a contract that ends in June.
Asked whether he would resign, Khune would only say “no comment”.
However, the keeper did admit he had lost endorsements being on the sidelines, and believed it was a crucial time to get back on the field, for both club and national team.
Khune, and the keeper who impressed deputising in his absence, Brilliant Khuzwayo, have both been included in Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba’s squad for next week’s friendlies against Swaziland and Nigeria.
Khune, who has kept his place since Chiefs’ 1-0 win against Ajax Cape Town on March 4, admitted to having come through a tough period.
“I suffered from the same injury [ankle bone] I sustained last year and it has never happened before in my football career,” he said.
“With my current situation I needed to be back. Brilliant and Reyaad [Pieterse] have done well. In the national team Brilliant, Jackson [Mabokgwane] and Darren [Keet] did well.
“As a player you can worry about losing your position. But I’ve remained positive. I told myself as soon as I get back on the field I will do what ‘Itu’ does best.
“And I will have to reclaim my position here at club level before I get it back at Bafana.
“And nothing is guaranteed at Bafana – I still need to go there and prove to the coaches that I deserve my No 1.”
Chiefs meet Leopards confident they have cast aside a nervy period with a 3-0 win against Moroka Swallows at Dobsonville Stadium on Wednesday night, captain Tefu Mashamaite said.
It was just Amakhosi’s second league victory the year, and took a Larry Cohen own goal to break the ice for an Amakhosi side who had scored one goal in five PSL games this year.
Chiefs were coming off backto-back 1-0 defeats against Maritzburg United and Raja Casablanca, where they conceded from free-kicks.
“We had gone a season and a half without conceding from a free-kick. And If you do concede silly free-kicks you get concerned,” Mashamaite said.
“The game against Swallows was: ‘Okay, we still have it.’ ”
The centre-back said it was important for Chiefs that Katlego Mphela played 90 minutes and ran well at the Swallows defence.
Mashamaite said Chiefs viewed the cup match against Leopards as important from the perspective of continuing their momentum.
Lidoda Duvha are in sixth place in the First Division.
“There’s no doubt we’re underdogs in this one,” Leopards coach Zeca Marques said. “We’ve got nothing to lose. Chiefs have a lot at stake, so it’s going to be an interesting duel.”