Kaizer Chiefs captain Khune salutes Egyptian veteran El-Hadary

Itumeleng Khune
The Bafana international admits watching the Afcon 2017 finals at home is painful after Bafana failed to qualify

Nevertheless Kaizer Chiefs  and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has been impressed with Egypt’s veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary.

The 44-year-old made history by becoming the oldest player to compete in an Afcon tournament as he led his side to the final where they will play Cameroon on Sunday in a repeat of the 2008 final in Ghana.

“Watching the Afcon with us not being there has been difficult,” Khune told the Saturday Star .

“Every player wants to compete at the highest level. I would have loved to be in Gabon; that’s why the other day I posted picture of myself and Africa’s No1 (El-Hadary), the 44-year-old who is still going strong.

“Seeing him do that at his age motivates me. If I take good care of myself and invest in this body, I can play until I am his age,” Khune said.

Khune calls on the national association to take continental seriously and believes if Bafana were at the tournament they would have gone far given that they beat perennial tournament favourites in 2018 World Cup qualifying.

“I tell the guys that if we (Bafana) were there, we would have gone far in the tournament looking at the fact that we beat Senegal.

“We need to change our mindset and start taking these competitions seriously - not just the players, but Safa as a whole. They need to support the team,” Khune said.

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The 29-year-old has been following the Egyptian, who has set a new record for going five matches in the Afcon without conceding, since he was in the development structures of Chiefs.

“I remember when he scored against my South African idol, Brian Baloyi (in the 2002 CAF Super Cup that Chiefs lost 4-1 to Al-Ahly),” Khune said.

“That’s when I started following him because I had heard about him but had not seen him in action. I was still at the academy then, staying at a boarding school. We would watch TV until a certain time before we had to go study or sleep. After I left boarding school, I could watch TV anytime and I got to follow most of the players,” Khune added.