Pressing Issues: Khune’s injuries – or the timing thereof – are becoming legendary

2014-03-11 10:00

While most people focused on the Bafana Bafana vs Brazil friendly on Wednesday night, I thought about captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

What got me thinking was Khune’s injury, which he sustained while warming up before Kaizer Chiefs’ CAF Champions League encounter with Mozambican club Liga Desportiva Muçulmana de Maputo.

Khune “sprained” his ankle and the SA Football Association (Safa) issued a statement on Monday saying he and Kagisho Dikgacoi were out of the game due to injury.

Safa’s statement added the goalkeeper was “expected to be out of action for up to 15 days”.

The reason I found myself ruminating about Khune’s situation is that his injuries (or should we say the timing thereof?) is becoming legendary.

He was sprawled on the ground, writhing in pain just a few minutes before the end of Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier for the 2012 event against Sierra Leone at Mbombela Stadium.

One would have sworn at that moment the agile goalkeeper saw his life flash right in front of him as he looked so distraught and forlorn as the medical team attended to him.

But lo and behold, no sooner had the final whistle gone and Khune was up and sprightly as he led the squad in what has now become known as Bafana’s “dance of shame”.

It is now history that the players – led by Khune – were embarrassed after finding out the goalless draw they had held on to was not enough to see them go through to the Afcon finals.

Even in PSL matches, Khune’s prostrate body on the ground, writhing in pain, has become a common sight.

These injuries usually coincide with his club having a slender lead, prompting many to say it’s a time-wasting ­tactic.

Lest we forget, Khune was “injured” on the eve of Bafana Bafana’s last African Nations Championship group match against Nigeria.

He missed the game, which the team lost 3-1, bombing out of the tournament in the first round.

Need I say, it was his “ankle” once more?

It was said at the time he would be out for some weeks but he was ­between the poles for Chiefs when they faced Mamelodi Sundowns in a crucial league match – which they won 1-0 – after a “miraculous” recovery.

And as usual, he pulled off some stupendous saves in that match, as he continues to prove he is the best goalkeeper in this country.

At that time, he said it was national coach Gordon Igesund who had decided to drop him from the team for the match against Nigeria as he felt fit to play.

The coach said he had followed the medical team’s advice which was that Khune was not fit to play.

There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, with Igesund being accused of a number of things, including trying to influence players to ask for bigger bonuses from Safa for participating in the African Nations Championship.

These allegations surfaced after Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had ­labelled the players “a bunch of ­losers”.

There is an ongoing investigation into what really happened inside the Bafana camp during that tournament.

Safa has said witnesses – who are expected to include the head of delegation, the team manager and the captain – will be called.

They are also expected to submit affidavits.

The camp ahead of the Brazil game would have been the first time Khune and Igesund came together as coach and captain after the African Nations Championship fiasco.

I doubt I’m the only one who smells a rat in the timing of Khune’s latest “injury”.

When colleague Timothy Molobi pondered what effect Khune’s injury would have on Chiefs’ title aspirations, I begged him not to hold his breath.

Chances are we will see him back between the goalposts for Amakhosi when they resume their domestic league games.

Khune is without a doubt a great goalkeeper, but he should be very careful that he is not remembered for his theatrics and Oscar-deserving antics rather than his superb skills.

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