The end of yet another year means Itumeleng Khune is drawing closer to two decades of first-team service which has dominantly been a success though his future is now hanging.
Khune was promoted to the first team in 2004 just after club legend Brian Baloyi had just been lured to Mamelodi Sundowns by Patrice Motsepe’s financial power.
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He was only 17 at the time and came in to serve as the third choice behind Rowen Fernandez and Aubrey Mathibe before Emille Baron and Ryan Wuest joined.
For three years, Khune didn’t make his first team debut and it was only after he turned 20 with Fernandez leaving for Germany that he earned his official debut.
In the season that Khune made his first-team debut Muhsin Ertugral had also brought in an Austrian keeper named Markus Bocskor to provide further competition with Baron battling injury concerns.
Bocskor made no difference and was gone the next season with Thela Ngobeni and Gregory Mabena coming in as cover but never made much of inroads and were soon gone with Arthur Bartman and Kabelo Metsimetsi then added.
Bartman came to the party when Khune was injured in the season before the 2010 World Cup, but he was approaching 40 so Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse were added to the goalkeepers’ roast to replace Bartman and Metsimetsi.
As Khuzwayo was proving to be a solid alternative, Luthando Sixhaso was promoted to join the back of the goalkeeping queue and stayed there until he left just like Shandulani Mulovhedzi as Bruce Bvuma came up the ranks.
In 2017, Khune topped a decade since he made his first team debut with Brylon Petersen being added to Bvuma and Khuzwayo in the goalkeeping department.
The next season Khuzwayo was gone with Virgil Vries coming on board, but he made a mess of his opportunities and Daniel Akpeyi was recruited to do damage control in the absence of the injured Khune.
In the 2019/20 campaign when Chiefs came within minutes of the title Akpeyi played the most with Khune and Bvuma as cover with Bontle Molefe promoted.
Since the 2020/21 season, Brandon Petersen has been the only goalkeeper signed while Akpeyi was released at the end of last season.
This means Khune in 18 years in the first team Khune has also had another 18 keepers to compete with dominating for most though his future is now pending with his contract up at the end of the season.
He has fought his way back this season but has had injury concerns that forced him out for the last four games before the break.
By the time Khune’s contract expires he will have come within months of completing 20 years in the first team at Chiefs with a one-year contract extension sealing that feat.
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