Bafana’s treatment of Khune annoys Chiefs coach Baxter

2014-09-11 16:02

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Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter bemoaned the national team’s handling of Itumeleng Khune, which has resulted in the goalkeeper being sidelined for up to five weeks.

“We would have liked the national team to come to us and talk with us and not speculate in the newspaper and put things into players’ heads that shouldn’t be there,” Baxter said today.

Khune, the club captain, was sidelined with an ankle injury soon after reporting for Bafana Bafana duty ahead of their 2015 Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) qualifier against Sudan last week.

Bafana team doctor Thulani Ngwenya said Khune had been carrying an injury for a number of months. But Baxter said Khune appeared to be fine in the weeks following an injury layoff.

“The medical team we have are first class and the people who have been looking at Khune are top professors,” Baxter said.

“We have looked at his stats and he had kicked more balls, he had jumped higher, his strength was the same and his sprint over 30m was exactly the same.”

He said the club was not aware of the severity of Khune’s ankle knock.

“He has had some pain, or rather some discomfort. Never have we been encouraged to do scans and Itumeleng has never complained about it.”

Baxter said both back-up goalkeepers – Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse – were in line to stand in for their skipper.

“I would say both Brilliant and Reyaad are candidates. Itumeleng is one of our top players and of course we will miss him. So let us see if they step up. Our players have been able to step up and that’s what this team has been all about.”

Injury setbacks were nothing new to Amakhosi, who started their new campaign without the pivotal duo of Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker.

“Being without your best players is always a challenge. We were without Shabba and Bernard. So it’s been about players stepping up to the plate.”

The log leaders get back to Premiership action on Saturday against the University of Pretoria at the FNB Stadium after the international break.

Chiefs are the only club with a perfect record in the Premiership so far. They got off to a blistering start to the season, winning all five of their games.

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