Itumeleng Khune excited by new-look Bafana squad, remains cautious of Guinea-Bissau


The absence of a full-time head coach for the South Africa national team saw the selection process fall to interim coach Owen Da Gama, who named an exciting squad with a mixture of youth and experience, including six potential debutants.

And while Bafana head into Saturday’s friendly international against Guinea-Bissau as the favourites, Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper and national team captain Khune hopes to see complete focus from each of his team-mates.

“We cannot afford to take Guinea-Bissau for granted. We have to give them the respect they deserve but we also have to show them that they are on our turf. We have to show the hunger and desire to win the match. We believe we will do well,” said Khune in a statement issued by SAFA.

The Amakhosi skipper, who is the most-capped player in the current squad, continued: “I have been part of exciting squads before, and we have had South Africans complaining about the selection of players, but when this one was announced everyone was happy and positive about it – it even gave me goosebumps that I am part of this squad that everyone believes in, and I am really honoured to be here.

“We have great players who are in the form of their lives and this will take us to greater heights. Being the captain of the team I don’t have to relax and say I will walk into the team, in fact, maybe I have to work ten times harder than the other players to show that we mean business and I deserve to be in the team.”

Khune says he is also honoured to have been selected as the captain for the two upcoming matches.

“I would like to thank the coach and technical team for giving me the opportunity to lead the team, it’s a great honour once again. We have a very good team, an exciting squad and the players are very happy to be here. But we know what is expected of us, we need to continue from where we left off in the last match. I am happy that we haven’t lost a match in our last ten games, and every player that is here know their responsibilities and also know that we have to continue winning matches because we have great players and a great team,” said Khune.

“The good thing also is that I have a great supporting team of vice captains – Thulani Hlatshwayo [Bidvest Wits], Dean Furman [SuperSport United] and Hlompho Kekana [Mamelodi Sundowns], all captains in their teams – and it shows that the coach has great belief in our leadership qualities. We have to work harder to take Bafana Bafana to greater heights. I have enjoyed being captain before, and I still do. Being a captain you have to lead from the front, lead by example and be on top of your game in every match you play, not only on the field but also off it.”

Bafana Bafana’s next match is against Angola at Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Tuesday, 28 March 2017.

Kickoff is at 19h00.