Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt addresses goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune's absence
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune's absence from the starting lineup has raised eyebrows among the club’s fans but coach Gavin Hunt says his return to the field is very much in his own hands.
Hunt said the ball is in Khune's court and if he works very hard‚ remains fit‚ impresses at training and proves to the technical team that he is better than the players he’s competing with for a starting berth‚ then he will regain his place and play.
But if he is not able to meet these challenges and come to the party‚ he is not likely to see the jersey in a very long time.
Nigeria’s finest‚ Daniel Akpeyi‚ has made the position his own in the club's last six DStv Premiership matches as Chiefs recovered from their early season slump to win three games in a row and drew one in their last four.
“I thought Daniel (Akpeyi) was excellent [on Saturday]. Fantastic. He sweeps well‚ so there’s a lot of competition and people need to work hard to get back in the team‚” Hunt said without mentioning Khune by name.
Akpeyi has for the second season running looked better than Khune in the Chiefs goal and managed to keep two clean sheets in the past six matches‚ including in the goalless draw against Stellenbosch FC at the Daniel Craven Stadium on Saturday.
Khune was given plenty of chances at the start of the season but contrived to fluff them when he gave the ball away to opponents who duly thanked him for his generosity and scored in league games against Black Leopards (2-2) and SuperSport (1-2).
The match against SuperSport on December 15 proved to be Khune's last appearance and Akpeyi has assumed the No1 jersey since‚ with Chiefs losing only one game against Maritzburg United (2-0).
Chiefs drew two matches against Bloemfontein Celtic (1-1) and Stellenbosch (0-0) and won the other three against AmaZulu (1-0)‚ Cape Town City (2-1) and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (3-0).
It is that form that has taken Amakhosi to the seventh place on the Premiership table ahead of their meeting with Baroka at home on Tuesday and Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby on Saturday.
Asked if he was happy with how things are going for Chiefs at the moment‚ Hunt said he wasn't.
“No‚ not at all‚" he said.
“When we started we were not doing well but it’s got better now and it’s important for us to try and keep going every week and try to get better.
“I mean‚ it’s a long way to go‚ it’s not even halfway yet. So it’s a long way to go.”
“We’ve got to just keep playing.
"As I said‚ if you score you’ve got something to hold onto. And obviously they (Stellenbosch) had bigger chances in the second half and you say 'wow‚ we’re going to be hurt here’ because you’re not taking your opportunities.”