Goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune recognizes that he is not entitled to just walk back into the Kaizer Chiefs or Bafana Bafana starting XIs.
Khune made his long-awaited return earlier this months as Kaizer Chiefs beat Royal Eagles 1-0 in the Nedbank Cup round of 32.
Chiefs and Bafana move on from Khune
The last 13 months have been an ordeal for the Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana skipper. First, he sustained a shoulder injury that put him on the shelf for seven months, and then just as he was primed to return he suffered a groin injury that ruled him out for another six months.
He has had to watch as both Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana moved on from him, admittedly after some teething pains for both camps.
At Chiefs, he has been surpassed by Nigerian stopper Daniel Akpeyi, brought in January 2019 as the club realized its goalkeeping larder was bare.
Spider-boy needs to man up
Bafana Bafana have turned to last season’s PSL golden glove winner Ronwen Williams while Chiefs understudy Bruce Bvuma has experienced international football between the sticks.
For Khune his comeback isn’t about appearances and he has promised to put the work in at Naturena to get back to his best.
“I’ll bounce back and make sure I perform very well on the field to reclaim my position at Chiefs and at Bafana,” said Khune as he prepared for another Nedbank Cup engagement against Highlands Park.
“I don’t feel entitled, but I will work hard to reclaim [those positions] because that’s where I have been for years, so it’s very hard for that transition of being number-one for such a very long time [to being out of the game for so long].
“I need to get back to my best in order for me to reclaim the jerseys, so I will work hard even when nobody sees.”
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp certainly won’t be cutting Khune any slack and has made it clear that Khune will need to work if he wants to be the club’s number one again. Middendorp suggested that Khune would be on the bench for the Soweto Derby on 29 February.
Bafana Bafana are next in action on matchday 3 of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. South Africa host São Tomé and Príncipe on 23 March and head into the match in second place in their group behind Ghana and ahead of Sudan.