Goalkeeper says experience is currency

Khune adamant he deserves Bafana spot

Neville Khoza Journalist
Itumeleng Khune during a Bafana Bafana training session at Peoples Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 11, 2020 in Durban.
Itumeleng Khune during a Bafana Bafana training session at Peoples Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium on November 11, 2020 in Durban.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

Itumeleng Khune has responded to critics who questioned his inclusion in the Bafana Bafana squad to face Sao Tome and Principe in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers, maintaining he deserves to be selected even though he's not first choice at Kaizer Chiefs.

Bafana face the islanders in back-to-back qualifiers at Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow (9pm), and at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday (3pm), and eyebrows were raised when Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki named Khune in the squad despite him struggling for form at club level.

But the 33-year-old hit back and said his experience will rub off on the upcoming youngsters.

“To be quite honest, critics will always be there, and that’s what brings the best out of every player,” Khune told the media yesterday.

“I think the strong mentality has kept me going since day one. I always turn negativity into positivity, and that has kept me going, and I will continue working hard at the club level to gain my confidence back. I was out for nine months, and I cannot be hard on myself.

“The guys know what I have achieved in my career, and there is no need to remind them about that. They all know, and they draw inspiration from me. I don’t have to get to camp and start being big-headed and looking down on my teammates.

“My presence itself should say a lot. I am not an arrogant player, I am humbled. I think the other guys draw inspiration from me. We are here to work as a team and not as individuals.

“I am happy to be part of the team. There are a lot of youngsters coming into the team, and when they see players like me who are still playing and who have been in the game for more than a decade, they get motivated.

"Having lost the number one jersey at Chiefs and Bafana, the 33-year-old has vowed to work hard to reclaim it back despite many believing he is almost finished.

“I have no niggling injuries at the moment. I am ready to compete for number one at club level and here in the national team,” Khune said.

“I think that’s why I was rewarded with the call-up by coach Ntseki. He believes that I can add value to the team.

“I’m taking it in a positive way that at the end of the day, one has to play, and one has to stay on the bench, and one has to stay at home, hoping he will get back to the team."

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