As Itumeleng Khune reaches the age of 31, how much longer can the shot-stopper hold things together at Kaizer Chiefs? DEAN WORKMAN explores.
A mainstay in the Amakhosi side since 2007, Khune has seen it all at Naturena. From the highs of winning trophies galore to the lows of last season’s fan violence, sacking of Steve Komphela and a third trophy-less campaign.
Khune is undoubtedly his generation’s premium shot-stopper, alongside the late Senzo Meyiwa. The Chiefs captain reached a milestone 300th appearance for Amakhosi, when he helped his side to a 2-1 victory over Stellenbosch FC in March and has no plans of slowing down.
The Bafana Bafana gloveman is only the sixth player to reach the esteemed mark with only Doctor Khumalo (397), Brian Baloyi (347), Thabo Mooki (329), Siphiwe Tshabalala (325) and Tinashe Nengomasha (311) ahead of him on the Chiefs’ all-time appearance list.
We’ve worked tirelessly & mine was a contribution to the team’s goals. I look back to the season with a bitter sweet feeling. I won individual accolades & wish this could have been the Club titles. I’m grateful for the recognition & thankful to all who supported me throughout🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/aKzux2buDx
— IIKHUNE3216 (@IIKHUNE_32_16) June 1, 2018
Khune, however, has no plans to leave the club anytime soon.
‘I’m not satisfied because I could have played more games for the club if it wasn’t for injuries.’
‘It’s not that I want to break records but I hope to continue doing what I love. There’s Doctor Khumalo on 397 and there’s Brian Baloyi, ‘Tsiki-tsiki’ [Mooki] and ‘Shabba’ [Tshabalala] ahead of me.’
He also revealed that he aims to play another nine seasons at Naturena, and hopes to rack up another 300 appearances in that time.
So, I think its safe to say that the gloveman will be around Chiefs for some time to come and he will play vital role as the Amakhosi look to end their trophy drought next season.
At times last season, Khune was like a one-man army as he kept 20 clean sheets from 35 appearances in all competitions. Considering the amount of times Chiefs won 1-0 last season, without Khune’s heroics in goal, it could have been an even more painful season at Naturena.
Whoever may be coming into the hot seat at Chiefs will draw solace in the fact that they will be able to not only rely on Khune as the number one goalkeeper, but he will also be able to draw on Khune’s vast amount of experience and leadership qualities to turn things around at the club.
Khune still has a lot of football left in him and he will undoubtedly be raring to go ahead of the new season as the Soweto Giants look to put the smiles back on the faces of their faithful supporters.
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