Middendorp says Chiefs fans would've chased him out of the stadium if Khune didn't play

A visibly disappointed Itumeleng Khune limps off the pitch with a suspected injury.
A visibly disappointed Itumeleng Khune limps off the pitch with a suspected injury.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp says he would have been chased out of the stadium had he relegated No1 goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune to the bench in the club's league match against Baroka FC on Saturday night.

Khune returned to action in the match against AmaZulu last week after an eight-month injury-enforced absence and was also fielded in the game against Baroka on Saturday night.

But the wildly popular goalkeeper limped off the pitch with an injury in the 28th minute and Middendorp admitted that he should have managed his return better‚ instead of agonising over the reaction of the Chiefs fans.

“I would have been chased out of the stadium by the fans if Khune didn't play.

"It's a fact he hasn't been playing for eight months and against AmaZulu‚ he played in an intense game.

Ernst Middendorp regrets playing Itumeleng Khune in the game against Baroka FC.
Ernst Middendorp regrets playing Itumeleng Khune in the game against Baroka FC.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

"Three and a half days later‚ he was playing again. He was on the field and he shouldn't have been on the field‚” Middendorp said.

“Under normal circumstances‚ we should have started with Daniel and by Tuesday‚ Khune should have been one week back into action.

"I was aware that Khune's fitness was an issue but I didn't want to be chased out of the stadium. It's too early to say what's the problem so I have to wait.”

Middendorp was in high spirits after the 1-0 win against Baroka FC and couldn't help but bask in the glow of a fifth league win in seven matches.

The German‚ who was uncharacteristically chuffed and engaging‚ was also pleased with substitute Daniel Akpeyi‚ who went on to produce a man of the match performance after replacing Khune.

“I know it's a headline and Eric Tinkler said something of similar effect.

"I fully understand that it's about sensationalism‚ so I see the headline is already coming.

"I made it clear that there are certain circumstances that you have to ignore.

"Khune's been out for eight months and there's tough decisions that have to be made and choices have to be made‚” Middendorp said.

“I decided to play him and I think I've lost him now for the next week or two.

"At least we have depth in goalkeeping and in Bruce Bvuma‚ we have a national goalkeeper. Otherwise‚ you can make your headline."

Chiefs' three points were hard-earned and the club‚ who at this point have 16 points from seven games‚ had Akpeyi to thank for the win.

Itumeleng Khune will be sidelined for a week or two.
Itumeleng Khune will be sidelined for a week or two.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Akpeyi made a great save from a Collins Makgaga header two minutes after he came on and proceeded to keep Chiefs alive in the game.

There was nothing he could do when chances from Gerald Phiri and Martin Nsimba came off the bar in the dying minutes of the game‚ but he did his bit.

Middendorp said he hoped that Akpeyi's performances silenced his doubters.

“I said it already and if there's a person who's doubting Akpeyi's quality‚ then I must say I can't help‚" he said.

"He's shown quality‚ growth and the fact he's grown up from an attitude perspective.

"There's so much he's shown recently‚” Middendorp said.

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