Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says he is still as hungry to win with the senior men’s team as he was when he was first promoted from the junior national teams, along with late friend and colleague Senzo Meyiwa.
Khune was a surprise called up to the national team by coach Molefi Ntseki for the two Afcon qualification games against Sao Tome. The seasoned goalkeeper is aware of murmurs opposing his inclusion in the national team. The 33-year-old was relegated to the bench at Chiefs due to injury and sacked coach Ernst Middendorp selected Nigerian international Daniel Akpeyi ahead of the Bafana Bafana goal-minder.
When Gavin Hunt took over, he put Khune back in goal, but the Amakhosi development graduate conceded three goals against Mamelodi Sundowns in a league game, after months of warming the bench. Hunt soon recalled Akpeyi but Khune is in Durban hoping to help Bafana this week.
“To be honest critics are always there and will always be there. I have been around in the national team for a while and the strong mentality is what has kept me there,” Khune explained to reporters at Bafana Bafana’s training camp.
“I have always turned negativity into positivity over the years which has kept me going. I will work hard to gain my confidence at club level because I was out for nine months,” explained Khune.
Khune believes he is an asset to the national team as his experience will rub off on the other players in the camp.
“The guys know what I have achieved and I don’t have to keep reminding them, they draw inspiration from me. I don’t have to get to camp and start being big-headed or looking down on my teammates. My presence itself should say a lot, I am not an arrogant player I have always been humble and I think I inspire the other guys. I am happy to be part of the team.
“I think the other youngsters in the team, when they see players like me who have been playing and are still in the game for over a decade, they get motivated – that is what is important.”