Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune credits hard work for distribution skills
Posted: 8 October 2017 Time: 14:00
Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has once again been showered with praise following the crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Burkina Faso on Saturday.
The 30-year-old shot-stopper, who wore the captain’s armband on the day, put on a five-star show with his distribution that saw him set up two of Bafana’s goals in a 3-1 victory at FNB Stadium.
Having become renowned for his ability to pick out teammates with remarkable accuracy, Khune credited his performance to the many hours of practise he puts in at training as well as after hours.
"I think everyone has seen on my social platforms how much I practise my distribution. I don’t only practise when I'm at work but even in my spare time, in my backyard at home,” explained Khune.
“I always go crazy and look for anything, even a toothpick, just to distribute the ball to, so it doesn’t only happen at work, on the football pitch, it takes a lot of hard work, practise and repetition to be able to be that accurate.
“For me, a lot of players in the PSL tell me, ‘I wish I can play with you so you can distribute to me,’ and it humbles me.
“Percy [Tau] plays for Mamelodi Sundowns, I play for Kaizer Chiefs; [Andile] Jali plays for KV Oostende, I play for Chiefs, but whenever we’re in camp it shows that we are here for one common goal.
“We all want to win, we all want to receive that pass, and that’s exactly what happened today. It was part of our strategy and game-plan that we’ll show ourselves in the pockets and distribute so we can turn and move forward.
“We have pacy players, who can think quickly and take their opportunities, and I’m glad that my two through-balls to the guys resulted in goals.”
Meanwhile Stuart Baxter believes ‘Itu’ is one of the best distributors of the ball in world football, and admits that it is one of Bafana’s biggest weapons in their arsenal.
“I’ve coached a lot of goalkeepers all over the world, and if you’re talking about distribution then Itu is world class,” stated Baxter.
“My son’s a goalkeeper coach and he tells me he’s never seen anybody distribute a ball as confidently, and, I have to admit, when I first arrived at Chiefs and he was kicking balls through the midfield, and was hitting the strikers, I was [panicking], ‘No, you can’t do that!’ But he taught me to relax.
“Yes, it’s a weapon and we do pride ourselves on being quick and mobile, and we want to release those players as quickly as we can before the opponent gets set.
“I've never seen anybody better than him [in terms of distribution]. I’m sure you can throw up a couple of Brazilians or Argentinians close to him, but I think he’s probably the best I’ve ever seen.”