Itumeleng Khune: We won’t let coach Rulani’s mind games disrupt us in Soweto Derby
Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune says he “didn’t pay much attention” to comments by Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rulani Mokwena about how the Amakhosi are missing Steve Komphela’s “tactical acumen”.
Khune was speaking at a press conference organised by the Premier Soccer League on Wednesday in Johannesburg, and which was broadcast on the Chiefs Facebook page.
Mokwena had a dig at Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas by saying that Komphela was a “big loss for Chiefs from a technical perspective and the type of leader that he is as well as the tactical acumen that he possesses”.
He added that “if you compare the previous team to this team – from an organisational perspective, you can clearly see the lack of a coach of that calibre.
“Without taking anything away from the current head coach, but I do think with Steve you can see how they played last season and this season, from the minute details, the loss that has taken place.”
But Khune was having none of it on Wednesday.
“To be honest, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. It would be unfair for me to compare coaches. I’ve worked with so many coaches, and I was able to adjust and do what I was asked to do. I think it’s mind games, and we won’t let it disrupt us!” the Bafana Bafana star said.
He joked that he would have to get “used to” sitting on the bench after Virgil Vries saved two penalties in the Telkom Knockout shoot-out win over Black Leopards on Sunday, but went into serious mode about finally getting one over Pirates.
The last time the Amakhosi beat the Buccaneers in the league was in December 2014, and Khune wants that to change.
“It’s not nice that it’s been four years without a win over our rivals. But Saturday is going to be a different ball-game, and we have to turn it around and go for a victory,” he said.
“It’s a big one, special one, exciting one. Already since I was in the Bafana camp, people were starting to talk about the derby, but it was a bit unfair on us as players as we had other games to focus on.
“But it is the norm in South Africa and we understand that. It’s an exciting game, and everyone wants to go to that match and they can’t wait. Everyone can’t wait for it in the country, across borders – people will be driving and flying in.
“The supporters will come to rally behind the team, so all we have to do is put a smile on their faces.”@ashfakmohamed