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Ntseki defends Khune's Bafana selection

Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune

Bafana Bafana head coach Molefi Ntseki says he had spoken Itumeleng Khune about the goalkeeper’s form before selecting him in the Bafana squad for the upcoming 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Ghana and Sudan later this month.

The Chiefs number one has struggled for consistency this season and as a result has been in and out of the team at Naturena.

He, however, has returned to the team in recent weeks and despite conceding four goals, as Chiefs were hammered 4-0 by Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in a Caf Champions League match, last Sunday the keeper has been working hard according to Ntseki.

The Bafana coach raised many eyebrows with the selection but the 51-year-old tactitician says he has spoken to both Khune and Chiefs goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter about two similar mistakes in back-to-back PSL matches against SuperSport United and Black Leopards in December 2020.

“When it comes to Itumeleng Khune, he made glaring mistakes against SuperSport and Black Leopards," Ntseki told the media.

"When I spoke to [goalkeeper] coach Lee Baxter about the situation, he said to me they brought Itumeleng Khune into a meeting to find out what actually happened.

"As Itumeleng Khune was explaining the situation, it was just one of those mistakes that you make in your career that you want to forget as quickly as possible, because he said to them he was trying to play from the back and, as a result, they read into the pass and he made that mistake."

The 33-year-old shot-stopper's poor form has seen him being stripped off the Chiefs club captaincy and he has been replaced by Ramahlwe Mphahlele.

“Recently I also spoke to Itumeleng about his situation. We had a very lengthy telephonic discussion and he was explaining to me what he is going through as a person," he continued.

"What I said to him is that, ‘You must also consider giving respect to your career and giving respect to the profession you are in. You are not growing any younger, [so] it’s also important for you to be a leader in terms of how you do things’.

"When it comes to training and his conduct at the club, the coach is very happy with him in terms of being on time for training and in also giving his best."

Ntseki believes Khune, who is arguably the most experienced player in the 26-man Bafana squad which was announced on Thursday, can help the team as they look to qualify for the 2022 Afcon finals.

"Seeing him playing in the past two matches, it was based on the attitude he was showing at training and the club felt that they need to give him a chance," he added.

"He has since been doing well, apart from conceding the four goals against Casablanca over the weekend. Any human being has got those bad patches in life and I think Itumeleng Khune is not different.

"We are just looking forward to bringing in an Itumeleng Khune who will be focused on the camp and who will help the team going forward.”

Khune has 91 caps for Bafana, 16 appearances shy of matching the record held by retired defender Aaron Mokoena, who b