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Itumeleng Khune faces uncertain Kaizer Chiefs future with contract set to expire

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Itumeleng Khune (Gallo Images)
Itumeleng Khune (Gallo Images)
  • Star goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune's Kaizer Chiefs contract will expire at the end of June 2021.
  • Head coach Stuart Baxter's return to Amakhosi could play a huge factor in the 33-year-old's future at the club.
  • Amakhosi corporate communications manager Vina Maphosa reveals that player arrivals and exits will be made public after the CAF Champions League semi-finals.

Veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune finds himself in a dicey predicament before Kaizer Chiefs' CAF Champions League semi-final first leg against Moroccan club Wydad AC on Saturday.

The star Bafana Bafana goalkeeper's current deal with Chiefs expires at the end of June, with no clear indication yet of what will happen next season.

On Sunday, 20 June, 'Spiderkid', as he is affectionately known, will turn 34-years-old, a day after Amakhosi take on Wydad in the club's first-ever CAF Champions League semi-final.

Amid the birthday celebrations, Khune will have to ponder aplenty about what his next move will be if he's not offered a contract renewal by the club he's been with his entire career.

However, Stuart Baxter's return to the club, a man that brought much success to Naturena, gives Khune cause for optimism.

The Brit has yet to get stuck into the Chiefs changing room because of work permit delays but is expected to travel to Morocco with the team for this weekend's crucial game.

Baxter and Khune achieved much success between 2012 and 2015, during the former's first incarnation as Chiefs head coach. 

Two Premiership titles were caked with a Nedbank Cup and MTN8 title before Baxter departed in 2015.

Sport24 contacted the Amakhosi media department for a comment, but they opted not to reveal contractual issues regarding any of the players at the moment.

"Unfortunately, you know very well, we have a policy that we have to adhere to," said Amakhosi's corporate communications manager Vina Maphosa.

"We don't deal with player contracts that has a question and answer. We deal with it if and when we announce it."

Khune has gone through many coaching shake-ups, player arrivals, including star exits since he was promoted to the first team in 2004.

Three years after he graduated, in the 2007 Telkom Knockout against Mamelodi Sundowns, Khune's goalkeeping heroics catapulted him to becoming the first-choice keeper at Chiefs - a position he has seldom relinquished since.

Khune has learned the goalkeeping trade at one of the country's best football clubs. As a result, he has the knowledge and experience to be a solid addition to any squad.

At Khune's age, however, it could be the perfect opportunity for Chiefs to end their partnership with one of their longest-serving players.

When Baxter departed in 2015, several big-name players also left the Soweto giants.

The big Kingston Nkhatha shock exit remains the most bizarre piece of business that happened in that January transfer window.

When Steve Komphela came in as head coach after Baxter, star defender Tefu Mashamaite and Phakamani Mngadi decided to end their Naturena journeys, too.

A year later, pass master Reneilwe Letsholonyane also left Chiefs to join Baxter at SuperSport United.

However, Chiefs held onto the services of fan-favourite Khune as he inked a long-term contract at the club, making him the highest Amakhosi earner at the time.

That contract comes to an end this June.

Khune has also suffered severe injuries in the past two years and has not performed at his best between the posts, where he once was prolific.

In a role that he has not been familiar with since before 2007, Khune has been an understudy for Daniel Akpeyi and Bruce Bvuma in the past two seasons.

The 2020/21 campaign saw him claim more than 1 000 minutes in goal (18 appearances) as he fought for his place in the Chiefs starting XI and tried to regain his fitness.

This season alone, Khune was also in the spotlight after some glaring mistakes, further highlighting whether he can still be the club's number one gloveman.

Maphosa added: "The other complicating matter for you; we're not dealing with any transfer or player movement and things. We have not unlocked that process yet.

"After the CAF Champions League semi-finals, I am sure, then we'll comment."

The Glamour Boys' clash against Wydad kicks off at 21:00 (SA time) on Saturday.

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