Goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune has hit out at his Kaizer Chiefs team-mates ahead of Amakhosi’s Nedbank Cup semi-final clash with Bidvest Wits in Joburg today.
Speaking at Chiefs’ headquarters in Naturena, Khune accused some players of lacking mental strength as the season draws to a largely disappointing conclusion for the defending league and Nedbank Cup champions.
“We started the season well and got good results,” Khune said.
“But then people starting talking about a hectic schedule ... I think some of the (Chiefs ) players don’t have mental strength.”
Although the Chiefs and Bafana Bafana skipper refused to single out names, he made it clear that hard work lay ahead for some squad members, hinting at a lack of drive following an inconsistent campaign.
“We need to get back on track, we are disappointed that the league has not gone our way,” Khune said.
“We have struggled to score goals but I’m convinced we can start scoring.”
Chiefs have all but relinquished their Premiership title to log-leading Mamelodi Sundowns following a 1-1 draw away to Free State Stars earlier this week, making today’s cup meeting a vital tie for Khune and his troops, who are aiming to defend their title, having beaten SuperSport United last season.
“The league is not in our hands but the cup is,” Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter added.
“This is a semi-final. There are no comebacks. We’ve got to do better.”
Chiefs are the most successful side in the tournament, having lifted the trophy – in its many forms – no fewer than 13 times, though only once since 2008, when the tournament was renamed under its current banner.
Meanwhile, Wits boss Gavin Hunt, who lost to Baxter while with SuperSport last season, admitted that Chiefs had the upper hand heading into the clash, but felt the team spirit that had served the Clever Boys so well this campaign would continue over the weekend.
“They (Chiefs) have a lot of good individual players and on their day, they can produce a good performance,” Hunt said.
“What we have to try and do is obviously worry about ourselves and try to put in a good effort.
“Our team effort has to take over because we don’t have the individual players like they have.
“We have a team approach which we will retain.”
Hunt and his outfit head into the encounter on the back of three successive goalless draws, one of which was against Chiefs last month, but Hunt says more is to come from his hardworking unit, who he felt “had nothing to lose” going into the game.
“We haven’t scored in the last three games, but we have certainly dominated in opportunities created.
“As long as we can play the same way and keep the same intensity and play with the same compactness and same organisation, it should be an even game.”
In the other semi-final, Maritzburg United host Orlando Pirates in Pietermaritzburg as the Buccaneers aim to reach an incredible fourth cup final this season, including a final appearance in the CAF Champions League. – Sapa