Itumeleng Khune tells Brilliant Khuzwayo: You will only play for Chiefs when I'm in a hospital bed
Posted: 19 March 2018 Time: 12:00
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says he has a good relationship with reserve goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo, but will not do him any favours for playing time.
Khune recently notched up his 300th appearance in his 11th season with Amakhosi, becoming only the sixth player to achieve such a feat, and looks set to go on and break the club’s appearance record currently held by legendary midfielder Doctor Khumalo.
While things continue to look up for the 30-year-old, his teammate and second-choice shot-stopper’s progress continues to hinder in the shadows, having made just over 30 appearances since his arrival from AmaZulu in 2012.
However, Khune insists the pair still enjoy strong relations both on and off-the-field, with Khuzwayo comprehensive of the fact that the decision on who plays is in the coach’s hands.
“The nice thing about us in the goalkeeping department here at Chiefs, and at Bafana, is that we have a nice relationship, not only on but also off the field,” said Khune.
“I always call Brilliant; he would come to my house, we would play PlayStation and talk about life in general; I would always go to his house, meet and have drinks.
“We’ve got that relationship, and we got to a point where he understands that I’m not the one making the call that ‘Itu’ must always start. I work hard to start and then the coach must make that decision.
“Here at Chiefs, you can’t question the culture. I’ve had a lot of goalkeepers before who have pushed for the number one jersey with me, and they’ve always pushed me to be on top of my game and work hard.”
‘Mzansi’s number one’, as Khune has been dubbed, admits that Khuzwayo, who is expected to leave Naturena upon the expiry of his contract in June, has the talent and ability to succeed elsewhere, but stresses that competition is something he cannot escape from.
“He’s got a great talent, a good height and he’s confident. He will make it. But, even here, he’s been pushing me for the number one spot,” Khune added.
“I always tell him to keep working hard and never give up, because when I was promoted I had to face South Africa’s number one at the time, Rowen Fernandez.
“When I got to Bafana I had to compete with Moeneeb Josephs, Rowen and Brian Baloyi, so anything is possible. You wait your turn, and when it comes you don’t look back.”
Despite having a close relationship, Khune says he is unaware of what Khuzwayo’s next move will be, but while he remains a Chiefs player he continues to motivate and taunt his counterpart.
“Not at all. All I know is that he’s still a Chiefs player and he’s pushing to play. Hopefully he will get his chance to play, but jokingly I always tell him, ‘The day you play a match will be the day I’m sleeping in a hospital bed.’ But he takes it like a man – it’s a joke.
“Again, how you take it and react to it is up to you. We always make jokes when we work, but at the same time we are serious about what we do and want to achieve,” he concluded.