This certainly seems a case of a man not willing to let go.
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has hit the headlines this week for the wrong reasons, with reports suggesting he turned up to training under the influence of alcohol and that he is set to be suspended by the club.
These reports were certainly borne out as Bruce Bvuma made his first appearance for Chiefs in goal in over a year on Sunday against Moroka Swallows, with Brandon Petersen on the bench and Khune nowhere to be seen.
If this is the end of the Amakhosi veteran goalkeeper’s playing time at Chiefs, it would be an unsavoury way for it to finish, not that it should take away from an unbelievable career.
At his peak, Khune was undoubtedly the best goalkeeper in South Africa, captaining both Amakhosi and Bafana Bafana.
Chiefs, indeed, have yet to find anyone as capable, and Khune was even recently restored to the starting line-up, with Brandon Petersen struggling in goal.
Khune has been at Chiefs for almost 25 years, and for many of those he has been Chiefs’ number one between the sticks. There is no history of him being disciplined for any major off-field misdemeanours, and I would be inclined to cut him a break if I was Chiefs, with one condition – It is time for the legend to hang up his gloves once and for all.
I am not privy to exactly what happened at Chiefs training, but what Khune certainly seems guilty of to me is of not letting go of his playing career. Injuries have badly disrupted the Chiefs ‘keeper over the last few years, and this certainly seems a case of a man not willing to let go.
Khune would certainly not be the first footballer to carry on longer than he should have.
After all, many professionals find that after retiring they just can’t replace the rush of playing the game. Khune is adored by Chiefs fans, for good reason, and while his age – 36 – is probably prohibitive to an outfield player, goalkeepers do tend to go on a bit longer.
The signs, however, have been there for some time that Khune should not be continuing. There may not have been issues with alcohol, but Khune has clearly had his struggles with weight, and that gets more difficult to fix the older you get.
Chiefs would surely have a role for him in their coaching structures should he decide to step down, and provided this latest indiscretion does not see him kicked out of Naturena once and for all.
Amakhosi, after all, have a good reputation for keeping club legends in the fold, and Khune is certainly that. One incident like this should not damage his reputation too much, and instead it would be good if Chiefs perhaps tried to find a way of helping Khune through whatever is going on in his personal life.
After all, a man who does not have a habit of incidents like this is probably going through a lot for him to behave like this. Chiefs, perhaps give Khune another shot – but only at coaching.