‘He who dared does succeed’ — understudy pulls it off

2014-09-22 00:00

THE hype surrounding the absence of Itumeleng Khune from Kaizer Chiefs ahead of Saturday’s MTN8 final spiralled out of control.

Would Brilliant Khuzwayo be able to handle the pressure of playing in a cup final that also happened to be a Soweto derby? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’.

Khuzwayo put in a man-of-the-match performance with a series of fine saves on Saturday night to help his side to a 1-0 win and silverware as Khune continues to recover from an ankle injury. While Chiefs fans were stressing over the prospect of an inexperienced goalkeeper taking on Bucs, Khuzwayo was the coolest man in Durban.

“Coach Baxter told me that ‘he who dares will succeed’,” said Khuzwayo, born in Umlazi. “Everything you do you must do to your fullest potential. I was prepared to fight as an underdog. Replacing Itu [Khune] is not easy, he’s the best in the country and I look up to him.”

Khuzwayo added that Khune had given him some words of encouragement ahead of the final.

“Itu told me to just go out there and enjoy myself,” the 24-year-old said. “He said that it is not a mistake that I was signed by Kaizer Chiefs and that I had been selected to play in the derby. He told me that this was my time to show my class and fight for the jersey.”

Baxter congratulated Khuzwayo, saying that there was every opportunity for him to challenge Khune for the number one jersey.

“Brilliant has done well, but he needs to go back to training tomorrow with his feet on the ground otherwise tonight [Saturday] doesn’t mean a whole lot,” said Baxter. “If he takes his chances and keeps performing over the next few games and we keep winning, then there is no reason why he can’t challenge Itu for a place in the team. That’s up to him and how he trains and plays.”

For the confident Khuzwayo, a regular place in the Chiefs line-sup is the immediate priority, though he has not ruled out a possible future with Bafana Bafana.

“Obviously I would like to join Bafana but that is up to Shakes [Mashaba, coach],” said Khuzwayo. “I just need to focus on improving and maintaining my place in the [Chiefs] team.”

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