JOHANNESBURG – Watching a Kaizer Chiefs game from the bench was “unfamiliar” territory for Amakhosi skipper and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, and he says he may very well have to get used to more of those moments this season.
It’s unlikely, however, that coach Giovanni Solinas will risk playing the Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates on Saturday afternoon without Khune between the sticks given his experience and personality.
But rotation is now a normality for the country’s first-choice.
“He really doesn’t owe me an explanation when he leaves me out,” Khune said this week when asked about Solinas’ whimsical team selection.
The No 1 goalie watched his deputy Virgil Vries picked ahead of him when Chiefs beat Black Leopards, coincidentally on penalties, with Vries being the hero in the opening round of the Telkom Knockout last weekend.
Solinas then confirmed at the end of the game that in as much as Khune remains first-choice, Vries, a Namibian international, would not be ignored.
“I agree with the coach,” Khune said. “If you have two international goalkeepers, why not rotate them?
“Even when the coach wanted to explain why he was putting me on the bench, I said it wasn’t necessary because I am a professional player and have been for many years.
“I have seen situations like these from other clubs where another goalkeeper plays the league games and others the cup matches.
“But he said he was explaining it to me out of respect because he won’t just make a decision and not inform me.”
Khune himself says he would like to be challenged for the No 1 jersey, which would be new to him seeing that Steve Komphela, who coached Chiefs between August 2015 until April this year, seldom put him on the bench.
Brilliant Khuzwayo spent six years at Amakhosi and barely got to 30 games during that period because he was playing second fiddle to Khune.
Khuzwayo joined Pirates as a free agent at the beginning of the current campaign.
“If you count all competitions and the Caf tournament, we would have played over 50 matches – including international matches. So we need to share the load,” Khune said, adding that Solinas’ overall rotation policy was to enhance competition.
“We all go through that (not being guaranteed a starting spot), but it keeps us on our toes.
“I think if a player knows that he is going to play week-in, week-out, he ends up relaxing and not giving his all.
“What coach Solinas is doing we respect, it’s his philosophy. That means we have to work hard and enjoy what we do and support those he picks,” said Khune.