Khune, who has 91 Bafana caps, made his long-awaited return on Tuesday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The door for the most capped Bafana Bafana goalkeeper of all-time, Itumeleng Khune, to make his return into the national team is open, just as long as he performs.

That is the message from Bafana coach, Molefi Ntseki, who made the statement in Port Elizabeth after the announcement that the city will host Bafana’s clash with Mali in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on October 13.

Khune wasn’t named in the 23-man squad that Ntseki will lead in his first match in charge of the team. Darren Keet and Ronwen Williams will fight for the No 1 spot like they did in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt. Khune missed that tournament due to injury.

But Khune, who has 91 Bafana caps, made his long-awaited return on Tuesday in Kaizer Chiefs’ 2-0 win over AmaZulu in Durban. That was Khune’s first match since December 1 last year.

“We are all happy to see him playing, and on a personal level I think that he is happy for himself that he didn’t concede,” Ntseki said. “All the best that we have in the country deserve to be in the Bafana team based on consistency and performance in their clubs. Anybody who does well, and we feel our profiling is in line with what we need to achieve with our team has got a chance to be in the team.”

There is currently a vacant spot in the third goalkeeper position for Bafana. Brandon Petersen was roped in because most of the young goalkeepers are focusing on the Olympics qualifiers while Bruce Bvuma, who was the third option in Egypt, hasn’t been playing for Amakhosi.

We are all happy to see Khune playing, said Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Should Khune return to his best this month and in October, he could return for the Afcon qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan in November. Keet and Williams have a chance to cement their claim to the No 1 jersey in the international friendly against Mali.

“We are all looking forward to playing Mali, one of the best football nations in Africa,” Ntseki said.

“All that is important for us is to give our best performance. It is important for me to make my debut playing my match in this province of Nelson Mandela.”

Bafana Bafana v Mali

Goalkeepers: Darren Keet, Ronwen Williams and Brandon Petersen

Defenders: Eric Mathoho, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Thapelo Morena, Thamsanqa Mkhize, Innocent Maela and Mosa Lebusa.

Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo, Thato Mokeke, Dean Furman, Lebogang Phiri, Bongani Zungu, Themba Zwane, Thembinkosi Lorch, Percy Tau, Thulani Serero and Keagan Dolly

Strikers: Lebo Mothiba, Bradley Grobler and Kermit Erasmus

Football Reporter