Ernst Middendorp’s bid to maintain Kaizer Chiefs’ unbeaten status in his latest tenure as the head coach received a huge blow on Thursday.
Just 48 hours before Saturday’s huge Premiership clash against Mamelodi Sundowns at the FNB Stadium, star goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has picked up a shoulder injury.
Bafana Bafana No 1 Khune was not present at Chiefs training on Thursday, and the Amakhosi announced on their Twitter account afterwards that he was injured.
“Itumeleng Khune has a shoulder injury. He will see a specialist today to determine the extent of his injury and also to determine the period of recovery. We wish him a speedy recovery,” read the tweet from the club.
Khune is a big-game player that Middendorp would’ve wanted to call on against Masandawana, who have one of the finest goalkeepers on the African continent in Ugandan shot-stopper Denis Onyango.
But if Khune’s prognosis keeps him off the field, Namibian international Virgil Vries will have to fill the void.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter will also hope that it is not a serious problem, as Khune needs to be fit for the decisive Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya in March.
Chiefs have won all three matches under Middendorp in late 2018 – a 1-0 league win over SuperSport United, and two comfortable victories over Elgeco Plus in the Caf Confederation Cup.
But now they’ll face a massive test on Saturday from Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns (3.30pm kickoff), who have three games in hand over log leaders Wits.
The Brazilians are on 22 points after 12 matches, which places them in fifth position – one spot ahead of Chiefs (21 in 15 games).
“It’s always a pleasure to have competitive games against coaches like Pitso (Mosimane). He has ideas, I have ideas. He’s been in this business long enough to know how to approach these types of games,” Middendorp said on the Chiefs Twitter account.
Injury Updates— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) January 3, 2019
Itumeleng Khune has a shoulder injury. He will see a specialist today to determine the extent of his injury and also to determine the period of recovery.
We wish him a speedy recovery.#HailTheChief #Amakhosi4Life pic.twitter.com/MqW22kwZUW