Johannesburg - Warriors coach Dylan Kerr lauded the impressive outing of experienced goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune during their 2-1 win over Amabutho in the semi-final of the DStv Compact Cup at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Before starting between the sticks for Warriors, Khune had played one game for his club, Kaizer Chiefs, this season, where they lost to eventual champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals of the MTN8 cup.
Since then, though, Khune has been kicking his heels on the stands in the league, with Daniel Akpeyi the preferred No 1 by coach Stuart Baxter. But the Compact Cup, mostly influenced by the supporters, offered Khune some redemption.
Khune was voted to start for the Warriors – a side that consist of players from Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Swallows and TS Galaxy – against Amabutho. And he didn’t disappoint, rolling back the years with some good saves between the sticks.
“I thought Khune, for the whole game, was outstanding. Because he had not played for a long time, to come into this competition, the expectations were all on the keeper for who he is: the massive personality that he is,” the Swallows coach said.
“For me, I thought if he was the Man of the Match, he would have deserved that today because he saved us. With the goal that they scored; he made a great save but unfortunately we didn’t react to the rebound ball where we conceded.”
Despite his impressive outing, Kerr didn’t want to be drawn into the debate of whether Khune or not deserved more game-time at Chiefs. Instead, he believes that Baxter and his assistants know what's best for their goalkeeping department.
“It’s difficult (to say whether he deserves more game time or not),” Kerr said. “He was playing and now he’s not playing at all. But obviously, Stuart, Dillion (Sheppard) and Arthur (Zwane) were watching this game from home this afternoon.
“He’s not running his game down. He’s a very good professional with a good attitude. He worked his socks off at training. I don’t think he realised the amount of work that goalkeepers have to do when they are doing a session with me.”
Khune and Co. will face Coastal United, who thumped Dinaledi 3-0 in the other semi-final at Mabhida, in the final at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Warriors are expected to be favourites, given the star-studded personnel they have at their disposal.
But after brushing aside another star-studded outfit in Dinaledi, a side that has players from Sundowns, SuperSport United, Sekhukhune United and Marumo Gallants, Coastal's assistant coach Kurt Lentjies has lauded the camaraderie in the team.
“There was a lot of planning that came in – not starting on Thursday or Friday. It was before. Since we already knew who was going to start the game, the planning had already started from there,” the Chilli Boys' commander in chief explained.
“Obviously, the head coach was coach Steve (Barker, from Stellenbosch). And we obviously had our opinions on certain players, but the structure and game model that was agreed on by the entire technical team. So it was an easy job to do.”