Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp coy on Itumeleng Khune's absence
JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune was nowhere to be found on Wednesday as Amakhosi dropped crucial points at the death against Bidvest Wits in an Absa Premiership showdown at Orlando Stadium.
When his coach, Ernst Middendorp, explained Khune’s absence, he was extremely short on detail.
The Glamour Boys shared the spoils with the Clever Boys after a 1-1 stalemate.
Chiefs dominated the game and created better goal scoring opportunities than their opponents but could not add another goal to the Samir Nurkovic header in the first half.
Injuries have relegated the reliable Khune to the bench for the much of this current season there was an expectation that he would, at least, be on the bench on Wednesday night but Bruce Bvuma was the second choice instead.
Daniel Akpeyi, who has been commanded a regular starting berth for Amakhosi, was in goal.
Speaking with the media after the game, Amakhosi coach Middendorp was very cagey about Khune’s absence.
“He missed some training sessions because of different reasons. He was having some challenges and I don’t want to get into that,” Middendorp replied when asked about the absence of Khune.
Akpeyi has been a regular for Amakhosi. Injuries have kept Khune out but he is now fully fit. The Nigerian has made 20 league appearances for Amakhosi in the current season.
Khune has featured in two league matches and two Nedbank Cup fixtures. With Akpeyi commanding the regular starting berth, Khune has been forced to settle for the place on the bench when he is not injured this season.
“We haven’t discussed any injury during the entire time (that we’ve spoken). We haven’t spoken about any injury reports or whatever,” the German said suggesting that Khune is fit play.
The Bafana Bafana goalkeeper is one of the greatest in the history of Amakhosi. His achievements speak volumes but he has struggled recently to return to the game fully.
Akpeyi has made the most of his opportunities in the current season. He is of the contenders for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Goalkeeper of the Season award.
Said Middendorp: “It is simple and easy. There were a number of days when he couldn’t make it (to training). Today, it was Daniel Akpeyi. We had Bruce (on the bench) and let us move forward.”,
Amakhosi are still at the summit of the table. They are four points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns who have a game in hand.
Tomorrow they will face Polokwane City at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at 3.30pm.
It will be a chance to redeem themselves and secure full points if they are to end their barren of five years without silverware.