Bafana Bafana

Igesund hails 'King Khune'

2013-08-29 23:42
Itumeleng Khune (File)

Johannesburg - Bongani Khumalo may have regained his place in the South African soccer squad for the crucial SWC qualifier against Botswana at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium next Saturday, but the sturdy central defender will not be reinstated as captain.

Bafana coach Gordon Igesund made this clear on Thursday while declaring that Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune had "filled the role like a king" after replacing Khumalo as captain following the African Nations Cup tournament earlier in the year.

"Khune has matured immeasurably as a player and a captain in a short space of time." said Igesund.

"There would seem to be no reason to make another switch in the captaincy - even with Khumalo back in harness.

"In fact I believe that Khumalo, now back to his best form with English Champions League club Doncaster Rovers, will be better off freed of the captaincy burden and able to concentrate on his role as a key defender.

"He's had a tough time settling down since signing for Tottenham Hotspur and spending a number of periods on loan with a succession of other clubs.

"Now he seems to have finally found his niche at Doncaster.

"What is more," said the Bafana coach.

"I've stressed to all my players that I expect to have 11 captains on the pitch at all times, with everyone taking it on himself to give 100% effort and assume full responsibility."

Igesund added that he was not surprised by the fact that Botswana had delayed the announcement of their final squad for the game in Durban, which both sides must win to retain any hope of qualifying fpr the World Cup and also hope the group leaders Ethiopia slip up in their final group qualifying game against the Central African Republic.

"They are taking the game in Durban as seriously as we are," said Igesund.

"and have arranged a friendly match for this week-end against Uganda after which they will bring in the players who are currently with clubs outside of Botswana and assess what is their best combination."

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