King Khune

2010-06-13 10:22

All hail, King Itumeleng Khune!


The young goalkeeper was Bafana ­Bafana’s hero at Soccer City in

the opening game of the 2010 Fifa World Cup when he thwarted many of Mexico’s

goal attempts.


Khune could not have asked for a better start than the one he had

on Friday when Bafana were held to a 1-1 draw by Mexico.


Unlike his team-mates, the 22-year-old did not show any nerves in

the opening stages of the game and led from the back with some ­stupendous saves

that made the final score look respectable.


In a game where there were no other ­outstanding players, Khune and

goal-scorer Siphiwe Tshabalala stood heads and ­shoulders above the rest.


Although Tshabalala walked away with the man of the match award, it

was Khune’s breathtaking saves that won many hearts.


He showed why he is Bafana’s number one player and repaid the

confidence shown in him ahead of Moeneeb Josephs and Shu-Aib ­Walters.


Had it not been for his heroics, Mexico would have easily beaten

Bafana and spoiled the party.


Khune was the busiest of the two ­goalkeepers from as early as the

second minute when he was called to parry Paul Aguilar’s cross back into play

with captain Aaron Mokoena on hand to block ­Giovani dos Santos’ follow-up

attempt.


This was only the beginning for Khune, particularly as his defence

was at sixes and sevens in the first half.


With Mexico exploiting Lucas Thwala’s left side, it was up to Khune

to organise his defence and he succeeded.


The fact that both teams went into the break goal-less was largely

due to Khune’s heroics.


The Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper once again denied Guillermo Franco in

the the 32nd minute.


But it was his 75th minute save that denied Dos Santos the

equaliser which put him in his own league.


Unfortunately, there was nothing much he could do to stop Rafael

Marquez’s goal in the 79th minute after he was left exposed by his

defence.


Although he blamed himself for the goal, arguing he should have

done more to stop Marquez’s ball, he was not at fault.


Khune will be looking for another good game when Bafana take on

Uruguay at ­Loftus on Wednesday.


Bafana need an outright victory to have a chance of qualifying for

the next round of the competition.


After such a brilliant performance, Khune should keep his head high

knowing that he has passed the first test.

 

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