Itumeleng Khune says he does not need to remind his Bafana Bafana teammates of what he has achieved in his career, adding he thinks his teammates draw inspiration from him and he deserves his spot in the squad.
Khune was a surprise selection in the squad to face Sao Tome and Principe in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers despite losing the No 1 spot at Kaizer Chiefs.
The shotstopper has struggled over the past 18 months or so as injury, loss of form and Covid-19 disruptions have caused him to lose some respectability among fans and media alike as his performances have seemingly waned.
However, he is back for Bafana who face the islanders in back-to-back qualifiers at Moses Mabhida Stadium tomorrow (9pm), and at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Monday (3pm), and Khune believes he deserves his spot in the squad based on what he has done in his career.
'To be quite honest, critics will always be there, and that’s what brings the best out of every player,' Khune told the media Wednesday.
'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 teammates.
'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.
Having lost the No 1 jersey at Chiefs and Bafana, the 33-year-old has vowed to work hard to reclaim it despite many believing he is almost finished.
'I have no niggling injuries at the moment. I am ready to compete for No 1 at club level and here in the national team,' Khune said.
'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.'
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