Kaizer Chiefs’ riches in the goalkeeping department will provide the team’s goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter with a pleasant headache in deciding who between Bruce Bvuma, Itumeleng Khune and Daniel Akpeyi should be between the goalposts in the CAF Champions League semifinal against Wydad Athletic.
Amakhosi face the in-form Moroccan giants in the opening leg of the last four encounter at the Mohamad V Stadium in Casablanca on Saturday night. The game kicks off at 9pm.
However, the spotlight will be on Baxter, and who he recommends to start now that Khune and Akpeyi have fully recovered from injuries and are part of the travelling part.
Bvuma rose from obscurity on the Amakhosi bench to assume the number one role early last month when he came on as a second half replacement for Akpeyi, who had suffered a concussion during the team’s 2-2 draw against Bloemfontein Celtic.
Khune, with 18 appearances in all competitions this season, was last in goal for Chiefs in their 1-0 loss to Chippa United in April, but was then sidelined by a shoulder strain.
In a recent interview with City Press, Bvuma – with nine appearances in all competitions – vowed to continue fighting for the No 1 jersey.
The 26-year-old recently endeared himself to the Amakhosi followers with some solid performances that helped Chiefs to a top eight finish in the just-concluded DStv Premiership campaign as well as helping the team secure a Champions League semifinal spot.
“There is a strong sense of belief in our camp that we can win the Champions League now that we made it this far,” Bvuma told City Press from the Bafana Bafana camp before the new-look team’s 3-2 win over Uganda at Orlando Stadium last Thursday. He was among the unused substitutes.
Having been in and out of the Chiefs matchday team throughout the season, Bvuma had almost resigned himself to a bleak season.
The goalie from Braamfischerville in Soweto was not in the Chiefs squad that lost 4-1 on aggregate to Wydad in the group stage early this year.
Khune was in goal in the first leg played in Tanzania and the 33-year-old was back between the sticks after Akpeyi was red-carded in an explosive return fixture that Chiefs won 1-0 at FNB Stadium.
Bvuma described the second leg against Simba away as his toughest game so far, after the Tanzanians put three past him in Dar es Salaam. But Chiefs held on for a 4-3 aggregate victory.
“The game in Tanzania was the hardest I have played so far but I am so proud of my team-mates that we fought until the end,” said Bvuma of the fixture in which Simba’s late surge almost levelled the game.
Heading into Saturday’s epic semifinal clash, the soft-spoken goalminder said he was pleased to be part of the travelling contingent.
“I feel happy that I’m involved and I hope that I’ll get a chance to play again,” said Bvuma.
Wydad are unbeaten in 11 matches and their free-scoring form has been remarkable. The Moroccans have scored 10 goals in four league matches this month alone.
Bvuma said Chiefs were unfazed. “For me as a goalkeeper, I am not worried about their strikers scoring. We know them very well from the group stages and going into this game, we believe we are well prepared.”
The return leg is set for FNB Stadium next Saturday (June 26).