Gavin Hunt wants Itumeleng Khune to push for Kaizer Chiefs’ No 1 jersey
CAPE TOWN - Kaizer Chiefs have thrown veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune a lifeline to revive his flailing career by including him in the 18-man squad which will do duty in Morocco on Saturday – if the match takes place.
Yesterday, Chiefs' CAF Champions League Group C clash against Wydad Casablanca was plunged into uncertainty since the team was waiting for visas to enter Morocco. As a result, Khune's much-heralded comeback may be put on hold.
Following a spate of error-filled performances last December, the 33-yearold Khune has been out in the cold. He is one of two 'keepers in the travelling squad and that means that for the first time in 2021 he will be included in a match day squad.
Khune has more than 250 appearances for Chiefs in a career spanning 17 seasons and his prolonged absence from recent Chiefs teams has fuelled speculation among Chiefs supporters that he has reached the sell-by date.
Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt recently tried to assure Khune's fans that he is more than just a fixture at Chiefs.
“Look Khune is very important‚ knowing that we have someone of that calibre pushing to get into the team," said Hunt. "So, he is particularly important but like any other player, he must work hard.
"There is no entitlement to a position at a club anywhere. So, he is working hard. He is doing well. When his chance comes again, hopefully, he grabs it. That is the only thing I can say on his situation at Chiefs.”
Meanwhile late yesterday afternoon, Chiefs issued a statement saying that they have been forced to delay their flight to Morocco by a day and will fly today instead.
Chiefs' statement in part reads: “Due to the hold up with the issuing of visas to Morocco and lack of communication from the Moroccan football federation and authorities on the matter that involves Kaizer Chiefs travelling to the north African country, the club had no option but to move their travel to tomorrow, pending the resolution of the matter and co-operation from all the relevant parties.
“Kaizer Chiefs can confirm that the club has fulfilled all the requirements needed for their travel, including all Covid-19 protocol requirements for their trip.
“After all the planning and again waiting at the Moroccan Embassy in Pretoria, the club has still not been issued with visas required for entry into Morocco for their maiden CAF group stage match against Wydad Athletic.
“The club remains in limbo as all lines of communication seem to have been shut down as the club and Safa have not received any correspondence from the Moroccan authorities on this matter.
“We will continue to collaborate with Safa and the SA Embassy in Morocco to try and engage CAF so that we can get the matter resolved.”
Chiefs were initially scheduled to fly out last night for what would have been a historic trip. The match would have been Chiefs' debut in the Champions League group stage competition.
The players spent the afternoon training yesterday while admin staff were tried to resolve the visa impasse.