Itumeleng Khune is first choice keeper for Kaizer Chiefs, for now
Share this article:
Itumeleng Khune is leading the pecking order to become Kaizer Chiefs’ first-choice goalkeeper next season, according to coach Stuart Baxter who said the trio of Brandon Peterson, Bruce Bvuma and Daniel Akpeyi are fighting him for the No. 1 spot.
After a disappointing campaign last season, thanks to injuries and blunders, Khune started between the sticks when Chiefs faced sworn enemies Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto, on Sunday evening.
Khune's start was voted on by the fans. But after playing for more than an hour before being replaced by Peterson, it appears his performances in training and against Pirates have convinced Baxter that he is close to returning to his best after the recent setbacks.
Khune recently put pen to paper to a two-year contract extension at Chiefs, albeit attracting interest from the Middle East. However, not many were convinced that he still has what it takes to be the No. 1 goalie. But Baxter appears to think otherwise.
“I think Itu has committed himself enough now, let’s say, to be dedicated to go as far as he can go with his career. And show it’s not over yet,” Baxter said. “And the other three are fighting him for that No. 1 spot. It gives a headache, but one I’ll take every day.”
Despite Khune playing for the better part of the game against Pirates, it was Peterson who ensured that Chiefs prevailed in the end. Peterson saved two kicks in the penalty shootouts where Chiefs won 4-3 after the match ended 0-0 in regulation time.
The Brit coach may have heaped praise on Peterson’s first cameo and Khune’s performance but he’s not closing the door on Bvuma and Akpeyi – who rotated the No. 1 jersey in domestic and continental football towards the end of last season.
“The goalkeeper coach, Lee, is in Sweden at the moment. His wife is giving birth tomorrow (today). He was on Zoom with all the goalkeepers, and what he told the goalkeepers, I can share with you. He told them: ‘Kaizer Chiefs have four No. 1s’,” Baxter said.
“They are fighting. They can be No. 4 the next day, and could be playing the next day. We are blessed. You saw Brandon’s performance when he came on. Itu was more like the Itu I knew before – with his distribution, shot-stopping and his agility.”