Cape Town - Former Mamelodi Sundowns and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper John Tlale believes Itumeleng Khune is gradually reaching legendary status in South African football.
Currently regarded as the best goalkeeper in the country with his intelligence and distributive ability, the Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper recently earned his 75th cap for the national team.
Khune won his 74th cap in Bafana's 1-1 draw with Mauritania in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying dead-rubber on 2 September at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, and his 75th in a 1-0 victory over Egypt in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on 6 September at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
"Reaching that milestone as the national team goalkeeper is an honour in its own for him [Khune]," Tlale told Vodacom Soccer.
"Look, no Bafana Bafana goalkeeper has reached 70 caps in the country's senior national team except him. Andre Arendse, who is amongst the most-capped legendary Bafana Bafana keepers has 67 caps, compared to Khune's 75.
"And of course the caps he has accumulated to date are not by fluke. He is undoubtedly the current best keeper in the South African football. In fact, he is gradually reaching the legendary status in Bafana Bafana history.
"He is the first-choice keeper at both club and national-team level. Yes, his team, Kaizer Chiefs, may be going through a rough patch at the moment, but he still remains the backbone of the team, and still plays a very important role in the team," adds Tlale, who was amongst the country's best keepers in his heyday despite making only winning eight caps for South Africa.
Having made his Bafana debut in March 2008 in an international friendly against Zimbabwe, Khune has over the years gradually established himself as the national team's first-choice in goal.
The 29-year-old is now the third most-capped Bafana player behind Aaron Mokoena (108) and Siphiwe Tshabalala (89). Amongst the major continental and international football tournaments Khune has featured in include AFCON 2008, the FIFA Confederation Cup in 2009 , the 2010 FIFA World Cup on home soil and mostly recently the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The Ventersdorp-born gloveman. who made his top-flight debut in Amakhosi colours during the 2007/08 season, will be a key man for them against Highlands Park in a crucial Premiership encounter at Makhulong Stadium on Wednesday evening.