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Ex-Kaizer Chiefs coach Ertugral explains why he gave Khune an early chance in his career

16:07 GMT+4 07/05/2022
Itumeleng Khune
The Amakhosi goalkeeper made his top-flight football debut as a 20-year-old and went on to become one of the best goalkeepers in South Africa

Former Kaizer Chiefs coach Mushin Ertugral has admitted he took a “big risk” by handing a then-inexperienced Itumeleng Khune his Premier Soccer League debut in 2007.

Khune played his first top-flight league match two months after he turned 20 in a 1-1 draw against Jomo Cosmos at Kings Park Stadium.

Emille Baron had been injured but Ertugral preferred Khune ahead of Austrian goalkeeper Markus Bocskor who was the likely option to step in for Baron.

“You need to analyse your player’s strengths and how to implement them in your playing capacity. So it is not that easy,” Ertugral wrote in an iDiski Times column.

“And I won’t put any youngster too early into the game when I’m not 100% sure that he can prove to me that in training sessions, day in and day out.

“So there are also psychological aspects, then you give him the possibility that if he plays a bad game, yes he might be taken off, but he’s gonna play again. He needs to know that and I’m putting myself at a big risk.

“I remember Itumeleng Khune. Itu was 19, he had two international goalkeepers [Baron and Markus Bocskor] ahead of him, and I put Itu in front of the other ones and he became the player he is today.

“Because I knew he will make mistakes but I will give him a chance. I give him a chance, and I can give him a chance again, I knew he would be better than the other ones because I could see that in training sessions.”

Rainer Dinkelacker was Chiefs goalkeeper coach then, working with Khune who had been promoted to the first team in 2004 following Brian Baloyi’s departure to Mamelodi Sundowns.

But Khune had limited playing opportunities until Rowen Fernandez left for Germany and then Baron’s injury.

Since then, Khune became Chiefs and Bafana Bafana’s number one choice and also played at the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“But an Itumeleng Khune makes it not just because of a Muhsin Ertugral,” said Ertugral.

“I give him the chance and stay with him and take the responsibility, yes, but you prepare him with the right people.”

In recent years, the goalkeeper has struggled to reclaim his Chiefs place after a long-term injury.

He has not played a single league match for Amakhosi this season.