Itumeleng Khune can't be sidelined for Afcon
Gone are the days when breaking into the Bafana Bafana team was a difficult job for any footballer.
Even being in the team was no guarantee of game time for the players. Think about having players such as Linda Buthelezi, Eric Tinkler and John Moeti in the same team fighting it out for one or two spots.
In central defence, you counted the likes of Lucas Radebe, Neil Tovey and Mark Fish.
Ex-Bafana coach Clive Barker played all three in the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) winning squad. However, the reality facing the nation is that current coach Stuart Baxter doesn't enjoy the same privilege to pick a team among a group of players of top quality.
With limited options, we are saying that Baxter will be forced to take goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to the Afcon finals in Egypt in June.
Baxter says Khune must prove his fitness by playing some games for Kaizer Chiefs now that he's recovered. He has missed 17 league and cup games since December because of a shoulder injury.
Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has thrown a spanner in the works by insisting that Khune would play no part for Amakhosi again this season.
We are saying that Khune remains SA's number one goalie. Even without game time but fully recovered, Khune could still provide the much-needed cover between the sticks.
With all due respect to Darren Keet (10 caps) and Ronwen Williams (six caps), they don't have Khune's experience at this level. Khune is now sitting on 91 caps.
In any case, Baxter has shown that he's not shy to call up players who have just recovered from injury.
Bongani Zungu and Keagan Dolly were called up for the Afcon qualifier against Libya recently despite the fact that they both missed more than 20 matches for French sides Amiens and Montpellier respectively.
In the end, they did not play in Bafana's 2-1 win that led to Afcon qualification.
But the bottom line is that they were part of the squad. It was a clear indication that Baxter feels they are an important part of the squad. So what would stop Baxter from calling up Khune?
If Baxter really believes Khune can play a pivotal role at the Afcon despite the fact that he's not proved his fitness, he should call him up.
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