Khune’s absence has been a constant topic of debate since he was ruled out of action through injury in December, with the team having conceded eight goals and managed just one clean sheet in the past five games in which reserve shot-stopper Virgil Vries has been fielded.
Vries conceded five goals over their two-legged CAF Confederation Cup second round fixture against Zambian outfit ZESCO United, who have since advanced to the tournament group stages at Amakhosi’s expense.
A visiting journalist, who watched on as the Namibian international conceded twice in their 2-1 defeat at FNB Stadium on Saturday, quizzed the German tactician over whether the absence of the Bafana Bafana gloveman was a major factor in ZESCO’s making light work of his side.
“I’m missing Lebogang Manyama. I’m missing Philani Zulu. I had to take out Leonardo Castro because [of a muscle strain]. I’m missing Khune. I’m missing experienced players whose names I can continue listing,” responded an irked Middendorp.
“There are players like ‘Tower’ [Mulomowandau Mathoho] and ‘Rama’ [Ramahlwe Mphahlele] – national team players, I can continue. I think it’s very unfair to sit and ask a question like you did, referring only to Khune.
“We are not playing golf, or we are not playing tennis. We play as a team and everybody has to contribute. I won’t sit here [and single out players]. I haven’t done it before and won’t do it now, but I have to answer your question – you do miss experienced players.
“There’s five or six national team players not around, it’s not only Khune. But should I now sit here and talk sh** in the direction to say, 'this, this, this, and that’s the reason?' No.
“I know this team has shown fantastic performances as we have been three days ago, and last week before we played [against ZESCO]. It’s definitely not about one player. I think it would be unfair to the players and the team [to single anyone out].”