Khune's return a 'mental booster' for Chiefs

Veteran keeper brings in positive energy, says Johnson

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Itumeleng Khune celebrates a goal during Kaizer Chiefs' DStv Premiership match against Cape Town Spurs at FNB Stadium on November 8.
Itumeleng Khune celebrates a goal during Kaizer Chiefs' DStv Premiership match against Cape Town Spurs at FNB Stadium on November 8.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

The return of veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune from suspension, although he's certain not to feature, coupled with their solid defensive record of late, has given Kaizer Chiefs interim coach Cavin Johnson confidence they'll put Orlando Pirates under the sword.

Chiefs and Pirates face-off in a DStv Premiership clash at FNB Stadium on Saturday  at 3.30pm. On Wednesday, Chiefs confirmed Khune had returned from suspension. He was suspended in December after media reports that he arrived at training under the influence of alcohol. The former Bafana Bafana No1 was also stripped of his captaincy.

“We've kept seven clean sheets from the past eight games and that gives us a little bit of confidence going into the derby. The players know that they have to entertain the 90,000 people at the stadium,'' Johnson said at a press conference at the Maslow Hotel in Sandton on Thursday.

“We welcome Itu back. He has a lot to do as far as pulling the change-room together at this particular moment because he has more than 20 derbies under his belt. He brings that little bit of extra energy, but he also brings a little bit of calmness with his experience into the dressing room to make sure that his teammates are mentally prepared.”

Despite Khune's return, Bruce Bvuma is odds-on to keep his berth in goals tomorrow. Even so, Johnson feels Khune's presence will have a meaningful impact on the team.

“Physically, we know the players should be ready, tactically we will do the best we can. Technically, they don't play for Chiefs and not be technically good,'' Johnson said.

“So taking all those things into consideration, Yes, we are ready, but the biggest thing for me is how ready you are mentally. It's a mental game. Some players have probably not played in front of 90,000 people before, so as far as Itu is concerned, we expect to help his teammates with mental strength, especially the younger ones.''


Saturday: Pirates v Chiefs, FNB (3.30pm); Stellenbosch v Spurs, Danie Craven (3.30pm); Swallows v Sekhukhune, Dobsonville (5.30pm); SuperSport v AmaZulu, Peter Mokaba (5.30pm); Sundowns v Chippa, Lucas Moripe (8pm); Bay v Galaxy, King Zwelithini (8pm)

Sunday: Polokwane v Arrows, Old Peter Mokaba (3.30pm); Royal v CPT City, Harry Gwala (5.45pm).

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