- Veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune believes he deserves his Bafana Bafana call-up.
- The 33-year-old says he still has a lot to offer despite negative backlash from fans.
- Bafana Bafana are set to face Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back AFCON qualifiers.
Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune is adamant that he deserves to be in the national set up after receiving his first call-up in over a year.
The 33-year-old has struggled for game time at Kaizer Chiefs and national level for the past 18 months due to niggling injuries.
Khune is now hoping that all the injuries are in the past as he seeks to be chosen to stand in goal for South Africa.
Bafana Bafana are preparing to face the relatively unknown Sao Tome and Principe in back-to-back 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The first match takes place on Friday 13 November (kick-off is at 21:00) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, while the second encounter is scheduled for Monday 16 November (15:00) at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Khune believes head coach Molefi Ntseki has selected him because of his experience which he thinks will add great value to the team.
For the upcoming fixtures, Ntseki has three goalkeeper options to choose from - Khune, Darren Keet and Ronwen Williams.
"I have no niggling injuries at the moment. I am ready to compete for number one at club level and here in the national team," Khune told reporters on Wednesday.
"I think that's why I was rewarded with the call-up by coach Ntseki. He believes that I can add value to the team.
"I'm taking it in a positive way that at the end of the day, one has to play, and one has to stay on the bench, and one has to stay at home, hoping he will get back to the team."
Khune's call-up has stirred controversy on social media as many believe the goalkeeper is not the player he once was.
"To be quite honest, critics will always be there, and that's what brings the best out of every player," Khune continued.
"I think the strong mentality has kept me going since day one. I always turn negativity into positivity, and that has kept me going, and I will continue working hard at the club level to gain my confidence back. I was out for nine months, and I cannot be hard on myself.
"The guys know what I have achieved in my career, and there is no need to remind them about that. They all know, and they draw inspiration from me. I don't have to get to camp and start being big-headed and looking down on my team-mates."
Khune reiterates that he is happy to be a part of the team and that his presence within the camp motivates other players.
"My presence itself should say a lot. I am not an arrogant player, I am humbled. I think the other guys draw inspiration from me. We are here to work as a team and not as individuals.
"I am happy to be part of the team. There are a lot of youngsters coming into the team, and when they see players like me who are still playing and who have been in the game for more than a decade, they get motivated."