Daniel Akpeyi is Chiefs' top dog, but Khune vows to fight on

Itumeleng Khune is working hard behind the scenes to reclaim Chiefs' No.1 spot.
Itumeleng Khune is working hard behind the scenes to reclaim Chiefs' No.1 spot.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi \ Gallo Images

Having played second fiddle to Daniel Akpeyi at Kaizer Chiefs, Itumeleng Khune appears to be pulling out all the stops to reclaim the No.1
jersey.

Despite the clean sheet in what was his maiden competitive game since September - when Chiefs won 1-0 against Royal Eagles in the Nedbank Cup last Saturday - Khune will be relegated to the bench when Amakhosi host Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium tomorrow (6pm).

Khune's demotion to the bench for the Maritzburg showdown was confirmed by coach Ernst Middendorp yesterday, confirming Akpeyi as his first-choice keeper.

"Daniel Akpeyi is playing [against Maritzburg]. It's very clear. I think at the moment, it's a very clear indication that he's our No.1 goalkeeper.

"We've discussed it with the goalkeeping department," Middendorp said.

Be that as it may be, Khune is hellbent on regaining his spot in the XI, working hard individually behind the scenes.

"I remain a hard-worker. you can see even now I was walking down from [the in-house] gym [at the club's base in Naturena]. I come here early, I try to beat the traffic and I have [an individual training] programme that I follow every day," said Khune.

At 32, Khune believes he can still return to his best form that earned him the "Mzansi's No.1" byname. The Amakhosi keeper wants to play for another eight to 10 years, drawing motivation from veteran shot-stoppers such as Egypt's Essam El-Hadary, who retired at 46 last year, and Juventus' Gianluigi Buffon, aged 42.

"As keepers we age like fine wine, we can play until 40 plus. and I draw inspiration from Buffon and El-Hadary, so I think I can play until then. But I have to invest in my body, have to make sure I do extra work."

About his contract, Khune said: "My contract wasn't coming to an end [in June]. I am still contracted [and] still happy. I will work hard to get another long-term contract."

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