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‘Role model’ Khune welcomes criticism from Kaizer Chiefs fans after recent high-profile blunders

01:27 EAT 20/01/2023
Itumeleng Khune
Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune is not surprised by the criticism directed his way and hopes to use it to improve his team’s performance.
  • Khune has no qualms being criticised by Chiefs supporters
  • The goalkeeper is happy to take the blame for his teammates
  • Struggling Chiefs face holders Sundowns in their next match

WHAT HAPPENED? Khune has been the subject of criticism from a section of Chiefs fans with some calling for him to be dropped, or retire altogether, following his error in the Glamour Boys’ 4-0 drubbing by AmaZulu last weekend.

Khune was robbed off the ball by Junior Dion when the goalkeeper fluffed his lines in an attempt to clear a back pass as the striker gave AmaZulu a 3-0 lead at halftime lead.

That was after two defensive blunders on set pieces saw Amakhosi concede early before letting in another easy goal in the second half.

It is a performance that has seen both players and coach Arthur Zwane come under fire from supporters, with Khune bearing the brunt, but the veteran shot stopper is not shying away from the spotlight, especially ahead of Saturday’s top clash against leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.

WHAT DID HE SAY? “Other players look up to you as their role model, they look up to you as a senior member of the team,” Khune said at Chiefs’ media day at their Naturena base.

“I can’t shy away from the criticism because that will mean I’m not willing to grow as a footballer and a human being.

“There are a lot of youngsters in the team who can learn a lot from me. With the situation like this [Chiefs’ poor form], I have to rise and I have to give better performances than I gave [against AmaZulu].

“So, yes, we’ll be given names but one game doesn’t define an individual. I’ve played for over two decades. I’ve been given names before, but I know how to bounce back, but again, I don't like talking about myself as an individual because we’re a team and we’ll bounce back as a team.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Khune has been at Kaizer Chiefs since 2004, playing a part in their three league triumphs over that period, but has recently seen his playing time reduced as injuries took their toll.

The 35-year-old is one of the leaders in what is a young Chiefs team that Zwane is building with the hope of challenging for honours in the near future.

Chiefs supporters, who last tasted league title success in 2015, however, seem to be running out of patience with Zwane’s project and it does not help that the tactician and his players have been making mistakes.

WHAT’S NEXT? Chiefs will have to eliminate all errors before Sundowns come to town if they have to avoid another drubbing, having lost 4-0 to the Brazilians in the first leg.