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Kaizer Chiefs axe Khune: Is this really the end?

10:32 AM EST 1/29/23
Itumeleng Khune Kaizer Chiefs.
Kaizer Chiefs’ legendary talisman Itumeleng Khune suffered yet more ignominy on Sunday.

Itumeleng Khune has proved this season that he’s a great survivor, but being axed—again—for Kaizer Chiefs’ PSL bout against Royal AM may be the last straw.

Is it time for the South African footballing fraternity to bid farewell to one of the great names of the domestic game?

No one can deny that Khune has been an immense servant to the Amakhosi; he’s a one-club man, constantly remaining loyal to the club despite incessant rumours earlier in his career of a move to Europe.

He was one of the PSL’s finest stoppers in his prime—deserving to be considered among Africa’s best, even—and he’s certainly in contention to make Chiefs’ all-time dream team.

But all great things come to an end.

Khune was written off earlier this season, after finding himself out of the team, particularly during a disastrous 2022 in which injuries took their toll.

He has demonstrated immense character to force his way back into contention, and at 35—not that old for a goalkeeper—there were hopes that he may enjoy an Indian summer to his career.

However, there have also been high-profile errors, as well as a worrying lack of judgement and poor decision-making at critical moments.

When Chiefs needed their experienced heads to help them through a sticky patch, Khune demonstrated that his best years may well be behind him.

He endured a disastrous outing in the mauling by AmaZulu, and took his tally of goals conceded to six in his last three matches when Chiefs were defeated 1-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns last weekend.

In truth, this wasn’t anything close to Khune’s worst outing of the season; he didn’t make a single save during the match, and could hardly have done any more when Neo Maema scored the winner.

Perhaps Arthur Zwane believes that Khune should have organised his defence better—Reeve Frosler, Sifiso Hlanti and Zitha Kwinika all looked shaky on the day—or perhaps the head coach just needed a scapegoat after Chiefs were eclipsed by the PSL league leaders.

Either way, it’s hard to see exactly how Khune bounces back once again from Zwane’s big decision to drop him from the side and decide that Brandon Petersen is a better bet against Royal AM.

It’s a sorry state of affairs, and while Khune deserves a better end to his Glamour Boys career, Zwane may have taken the decision for him.