FANS behind the Kaizer Chiefs bench were excited to see Itumeleng Khune on Saturday, and they waved and clapped when he turned to greet them.
Dressed in a suit just a few days after agreeing in principle that he would rejoin Amakhosi, Khune watched as the Naturena club lost 4-3 on penalties to Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup at FNB Stadium.
Clearly he is still loved by the Amakhosi fans and they want to see him back in goal as soon as possible.
But it does not work that way with coach Steve Komphela who was impressed with the performance of Reyaad Pieterse after Brilliant Khuzwayo suffered an injury the day before the game.
‘‘Itu is back and we welcome him back. (But) nobody has a God-given right to walk back into the team,” Komphela said. ‘‘If you look at the match today, Reyaad had a blinder. He did very well. What message would I be sending if I put Itu straight back into the line-up? He is a good keeper and we are happy to welcome him back,” the former Free State Stars coach said.
Komphela got his first taste of Soweto derby action as Amakhosi head coach but failed to get the desired result. Despite losing the game, Komphela’s charges gave a good fight against a Pirates side that had played more competitive football.
‘‘From us the graph has been upwards. For the first time some of the players played 90 minutes, but we can do better. We can see that there is still a lot that we can work on.”
Amakhosi begin the defence of their MTN8 title with a clash against Komphela’s former side Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium on Wednesday.
Their Premiership campaign begins where it ended in glory in the final game of last season, at Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium against Chippa United on Sunday.