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Khune: Compact Cup run 'gave me hope' of getting Kaizer Chiefs place back

Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune during the DStv Compact Cup press conference at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on January 27 2022.
Warriors and Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune during the DStv Compact Cup press conference at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on January 27 2022.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Kaizer Chiefs’ stalwart goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says being voted into the starting line-up of DStv Compact Cup side Warriors “gave me hope”, and he was determined to impress after being relegated to the sidelines at Amakhosi this season.

The former Bafana Bafana No.1 — still perhaps the best distributor among goalkeepers in Africa — showed his class with a commanding performance for the compilation Warriors in their 2-1 Compact Cup semifinal win against Amabutho at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

Khune said he wanted to repay the supporters who voted for the crowd favourite for their faith in selecting him for the Warriors XI in the new tournament that allows fans to vote for line-ups.

Khune (34) admitted he also had in mind sending a message to Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter that the keeper might be worth another look for Chiefs’ starting XI, where the ex-Bafana stopper has featured in just one cup game in 2021-22.

“Obviously there was that part. As soon as I saw that — how many goalkeepers do we have at all the clubs and myself and Bruce (Bvuma) were the selected ones — it gave me hope,” Khune said ahead of Saturday’s Compact third-place playoff and final at FNB Stadium.

“I told myself, ‘I need to go out there and impress, and just do what I do best’.

“I’m not out here to prove any point to anyone that I’ve still got it. But just to enjoy myself and give the fans who still believe in me and have voted in me something to smile about.”

Khune has a strong relationship with Baxter. He was a key player in the two doubles won in three years in 2012-13 and 2014-15 in Baxter’s previous Chiefs stint. Khune’s lengthy periods of injury over the past few years, though, have taken their toll and when he has played, errors have crept in.

Nigeria international Daniel Akpeyi has claimed Amakhosi’s keeper jersey in the meantime.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Baxter, but I understand that other goalkeepers are doing well and that has to be respected,” Khune said.

“Hence you will never see me posting or commenting negatively about my situation, because I’m in full support of the ones being given the nod ahead of me.”

Pressed on whether he believes he can become Chiefs’ regular keeper again, Khune said: “I don’t know. I’m not the one to answer that. I’m answering on the field.”

Khune, though, did say he intends to play professional football into his 40s.

“I’ll retire when I’m older than [44-year-old Parma goalkeeper Gianlugi] Buffon,” Khune said, chuckling.

“I still have maybe 10 more years. Because to be quite honest I’m making a good investment in myself by even investing in a gym at home.

“I do a lot of extra work after-hours at home. Because obviously, my body’s my investment. When I invest in my body it can take me until I’m 40-plus.

“And it’s in my hands to work hard and achieve that.”

Khune’s lone appearance for Chiefs this season was in their penalties MTN8 quarterfinal defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium in August.

Warriors, coached by Dylan Kerr, meet Steve Barker’s Coastal FC in the Compact final.

DStv Compact Cup — Saturday, FNB Stadium:

Third-place playoff: Dinaledi v Amabutho (11.30am)

Final: Coastal United v Warriors (2.30pm)