Bafana’s Key Men – Itumeleng Khune

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After three years in the first team squad, ‘Itu’ finally made his debut for Chiefs against Cosmos in the second game of the 2007/08 season, and immediately made an impact. In fact, Khune went on to become the cornerstone at the back of an Amakhosi defence that went on to concede just 20 goals in the League – by far the best defensive record in the PSL.

But the 20-year-old really made his mark with a tournament-winning performance in the Telkom Knockout Cup Final, where his heroics in the penalty shoot-out gave disenchanted Chiefs fans some silverware to celebrate in an otherwise disappointing season.

Khune saved three penalties while suffering from severe cramp to help Chiefs to their seventh successive cup final triumph over Mamelodi Sundowns, and swept the post-season tournament awards ceremony.

This impressive performance earned the young star a national call-up for Bafana’s 2008 Africa cup of Nations squad, and although stiff competition for the number one jersey – from the likes of Arminia Bielefeld’s Rowen Fernandez, as well as Moeneeb Josephs – kept him on the bench for the tournament, Khune has since been Bafana’s key man between the posts.

Khune made his debut in Bafana’s 2-1 win against Zimbabwe in March, and claimed the jersey again later that month in the 3-0 victory over Paraguay, a game lauded as South Africa’s most impressive performance in recent years.

Khune performed beyond his age on both occasions, making crucial saves, staying alert, and communicating well with his defence.

It has been an amazing first season in the top-flight for a player who, not so long ago, used to sleep at the train station in order to be on time for training with the Chiefs Under-13s.

Khune topped it all by bagging both the Players’ Player of the Season and Goalkeeper of the Season trophies, as well as the Telkom Knockout Cup Player of the Tournament, in the PSL’s end-of-season awards ceremony.

If his debut season is anything to go by, Khune will be a formidable force come 2010.

Position: Goalkeeper Current club: Kaizer Chiefs Date of birth: 20/06/1987 Caps: 2 South Africa debut: South Africa 2 Zimbabwe 1 (11/03/08) Career history: 1999-2003 Kaizer Chiefs Juniors, 2004- Kaizer Chiefs

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