Khune ready for debut

2008-03-25 00:00

Kaizer Chiefs’ bright young 20-year-old goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is set to make his debut for Bafana Bafana in the friendly against Paraguay at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville tonight.

Having picked a squad that blends up-and-coming talent with established veterans, Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is set to field an intriguing starting line-up against the 26th-ranked South Americans.

Apart from Khune, who will earn his debut after being part of the Bafana squad to the African Nations Cup in Ghana in January, yesterday’s training session at Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria indicated that South Africa’s central midfield combination will be Kagisho Dikgacoi and Lance Davids.

Dikgacoi was thrown in at the deep end in Bafana’s final Nations Cup match against Senegal, and acquitted himself well in a 1-1 draw. The versatile Davids played 15 minutes in Ghana, coming on as a substitute at right-back against Senegal.

Khune has impressed for Chiefs not just with his breathtaking shot-stopping ability, but also his dynamic energy in controlling his penalty area. He will play tonight ahead of Wits University’s Moeneeb Josephs.

"Khune will play in his first game for the national team," Parreira said after training yesterday. "We know Moeneeb and are happy with him after he played all three games in the Afcon."

Swedish-based Davids played in front of Lamontville Golden Arrows defensive midfielder Dikgacoi at playmaker in yesterday’s session, with Orlando Pirates‚ Teko Modise moved out to the right midfield position he filled for Supersport United last season. Modise will fill in there for Bafana’s most creative player in Ghana, Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar, who has flu.

Apart from those changes, tonight’s encounter also sees the return of Benni McCarthy to Bafana. The commitment of the Blackburn Rovers striker, who has been accused of not always giving 100% for his country, will be under close scrutiny.

Parreira’s continued experimentation might be frustrating to those who would like to see the coach settle on a team and begin working with them towards 2010. The Brazilian’s reaction to that suggestion is: "Two thousand and seven and 2008 are for scouting players. Because we don’t have the youth leagues, and have to see all the players. Then, of course, from 2009 we have to concentrate and merge all the players. We should be able to identify at least three players for every position."

For both teams, tonight’s friendly will serve as preparation for crucial qualifying matches in June.

Likely Bafana line-up: (4-4-1-1) Khune — Moon, Morris, Mokoena, Masilela — Modise,

Dikgacoi, Davids, Tshabalala —Moriri — McCarthy

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Itumeleng Khune (Kaizer Chiefs), Moeneeb Josephs (Wits University)

Defenders: Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Bongani Khumalo (Supersport United),

Mokete Tsotetsi (Chiefs), Bryce Moon (Ajax Cape Town), Nasief Morris

(Panathinaikos), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Innocent Mdledle (Pirates)

Midfielders: Lance Davids (Djugardens), Thulasizwe Mbuyane (Free State Stars), Lerato

Chabangu (Mamelodi Sundowns), Surprise Moriri (Sundowns), Kagisho Dikgacoi

Golden Arrows), Bafo Biyela (AmaZulu), Bernard Parker ( Thanda Royal Zulu), Teko

Modise (Pirates), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Chiefs), Sthembiso Ngcobo (FS Stars)

Strikers: Excellent Walaza (Pirates), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Maccabi Haifa), Benni McCarthy (Blackburn)

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