Itumeleng Khune: What the return of the goalkeeper means for Kaizer Chiefs

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The famous goalkeeper is back from a long injury lay-off, and Goal takes a look at what his return means for Amakhosi

Itumeleng Khune is set to make his return to the Kaizer Chiefs squad for the first time in over eight months having recovered from the shoulder injury he suffered in December 2018. 

In his absence, Amakhosi used three different goalkeepers and even brought in Daniel Akpeyi from Chippa United during the January transfer window. 

However, Khune was sorely missed in important matches which the Glamour Boys either drew or lost. 

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What does his return mean for Chiefs? 

Stability & Security

Itumeleng Khune Willard Katsande Mario Booysen Siyabonga Ngezana of Kaizer Chiefs September 2018

Khune brings stability to any defence in front of him at any given time - be it at club or national team level - and this is what makes him one of the top goalkeepers in the country. 

He has been the Amakhosi No.1 for over a decade now, and he understands the players better than any of the three goalkeepers in the team right now. 

With Khune in goal, Chiefs always look sharp and organized in defence. He keeps his backline on their toes and there are fewer mistakes committed by the defenders. 

His return means there will be more stability in that Chiefs defence because Khune is vocal and gives the right instructions to his back four. 

What makes Khune special is his ability to provide security, meaning his teammates play with so much freedom without really being concerned about what could happen if they were to make defensive mistakes.  

Defenders tend to try too hard to protect their goalkeepers, especially if they know that they are new to the team, error-prone or lack the necessary experience. 

For instance, Akpeyi arrived in January but he has already conceded 11 goals in 12 league matches for Chiefs. He managed to keep just two clean sheets since his arrival, and this could mean he hasn't been able to communicate and organize his defence well. 

Bvuma, on the other hand, featured in 10 matches across all competitions in Khune's absence and conceded 10 goals, including two against Highlands Park three weeks ago. 

Take nothing away from both Akpeyi and Bvuma, but filling Khune's big shoes has been a mission, and his return will definitely see the back four breath a sigh of relief - not because he (Khune) isn't going to concede goals, but because he will make it difficult for the opponents to score against him.       

Ball distribution  

Itumeleng Khune

Khune's accurate distribution of the ball has been one of Amakhosi's form of attacks over the years. 

It's not only the ball distribution that makes Khune a marvel to watch but how the attackers use it to exploit empty spaces and get into the final third very quickly. 

With pacy players such as Lazarous Kambole, Dumisani Zuma, and Joseph Molangoane among others, Khune's return simply means Chiefs have not only gained defensively but also in attack. 

Transition football requires quick and accurate distribution - Akpeyi and Bvuma haven't been able to master this art as they prefer to build from the back even when it's not necessary.    

Khune brings a different element to the way Chiefs play - whether it's building from the back or playing long balls forward. 

Ernst Middendorp can now focus on his attackers and work harder on his combinations going forward. If Chiefs want to challenge for league honours, they know scoring goals will see them win as many games as possible; something they haven't been able to do in the last eight months of Middendorp's reign.

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