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Khune returns: The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper brings so much more!

19:53 EAT 24/09/2019
Chiefs, Itumeleng Khune
The 32-year-old proved just why the majority of Amakhosi fans begged for his return to the starting line-up with a solid performance and a clean sheet

For the first time in nine months, Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp decided to field Itumeleng Khune, for the match against AmaZulu on Tuesday afternoon.

Khune showed just why Amakhosi missed him so much by producing a series of saves throughout the game – including a few brilliant stops in the first half.  

In his absence, it is fair to say Chiefs struggled in defence even though they won some matches without him, but what makes Khune a special goalkeeper is his bravery and ability to communicate with his back four.

Khune even admitted after the game against Usuthu that one of his strongest traits was his ability to communicate to his defence - hence he lost his voice in his post-match interview.

Take nothing away from Daniel Akpeyi and Bruce Bvuma, but Khune brings so much more to the Amakhosi team that has had a fantastic start to the current campaign.

Akpeyi had his fair share of game time but he also made some costly mistakes and while he often saved Chiefs from embarrassing defeats, the truth is he's nowhere close to the level of Khune, who is commanding in the penalty area.

Against AmaZulu, Khune didn’t show any signs of rustiness, and he didn’t succumb to the pressure that comes with wearing the Amakhosi jersey simply because he has gotten used to it.

For a team that is desperate for silverware this season after going three campaigns without any, it only made sense for Middendorp to throw Khune back into the starting team.

After all, Khune had been injury-free for weeks now, and he could only watch from afar as his team’s defence struggled under the stewardship of Akpeyi this season.

This season only, Chiefs have already conceded five goals in five matches, keeping a single clean sheet in the process, and the 2-0 win over AmaZulu was the team’s only second clean sheet this season. This should bring back those who felt the club was heading in the wrong direction with Middendorp as a coach and doubt whether or not the Soweto giants have a good enough defence to mount a serious challenge for the title race.

But with Khune back in the setup, this means not only Chiefs will benefit from his recovery but Bafana Bafana as well, more so with the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers on the horizon.

While Amakhosi’s goalscoring problems are well-documented, dating back to when Stuart Baxter was still the head coach, having a solid defence could only ease the pressure on Middendorp knowing he only needs to work on his attack to win matches.

In the past, they scored goals but still struggled at the back, and Khune brings about stability in that defence and allows the team to play with so much freedom going forward - and this is what everyone saw against Usuthu. 

In Khune, Chiefs have an attacker and a defender who are able to read the game and make sure the team benefits from his presence. 

This means the Amakhosi faithful can remain hopeful and dream of their first PSL title since 2015 although it is still very early in the season, especially after finishing ninth on the PSL log last season.