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Did Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Khune get what he needed from Compact Cup?

1:36 AM MYT 30/01/2022
Itumeleng Khune
The 34-year was chosen by the fans to be part of the Warriors side, made up of players from Amakhosi, Orlando Pirates, Swallows FC and TS Galaxy

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune was back in the spotlight over the past two weekends during his participation in the inaugural DStv Compact Cup.

Despite having fallen out of favour at Chiefs and hardly even making the matchday squads these days, Khune was chosen by fan vote to take part in the Compact Cup and ended up on the winning team after Warriors beat Coastal United 2-1 in Saturday’s final at the FNB Stadium.

After a promising performance last weekend in the semi-final against Amabutho, Khune would have been hoping that another solid performance could help him start to climb back up the Amakhosi pecking order.

The problem was that as the game panned out, Khune was involved very little as for the most part, Coastal United failed to threaten his goal. Meaning he didn’t give the Chiefs technical team, sure to have been watching, much to analyse.

It hadn't seemed that way early on though when he picked the ball out of the net within the first minute after Ashley Du Preez scored. Although he got a hand to the shot, there wasn’t much Khune could really do after the Stellenbosch FC striker had been able to run deep into the Warriors box.

Khune’s one standout moment came just before half-time, when he made an excellent diving save to keep out Mpho Makola’s free-kick.

It wasn’t the agile Khune of the past which we saw, and from that kind of distance, it’s a save he should have made as he had time to see the ball coming. Though to be fair, Makola’s set-piece was some effort as the ball dipped and swerved towards the top corner.

There was also a moment when Khune got off his line quickly to snuff out an attack, a cross which he gathered well if not overly authoritatively, as well as some good ball distribution.

But otherwise, not much was seen of the veteran and he may have wanted to be more involved and probably wouldn’t have even minded too much if the game had gone to penalties.

The verdict

It was definitely a step in the right direction, although it may have not quite been enough to make Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter think about starting Khune in Amakhosi’s clash against TS Galaxy on February 12.

While he can still work on his conditioning, there was a bit of a spring in Khune’s step and it must have been a timely morale booster getting the fan vote.

Having not played a first-team fixture since August, the game-time is what the former Bafana goalie needed and it is crucial that he now takes that positive energy into training and builds on the momentum.

Considering Amakhosi's next match is a Nedbank Cup fixture and that coaches sometimes use cup games to give their reserve keepers a run, there might just be a chance we'll see Khune taking the gloves versus Galaxy in two weeks time. The Compact Cup may still prove pivotal for him.