Siyabonga Nomvete backs Itumeleng Khune selection for Rio Olympics


Khune’s inclusion as an overaged player in Owen Da Gama’s Under-23 squad has caused divided national opinion as qualifying hero Jody February faces the prospect of watching a tournament he helped reach.

Ajax Cape Town striker Nathan Paulse was particularly scathing in his criticism of Khune’s selection, which he feels robs his club teammate February of a glorious opportunity.

“I don’t see why he [Khune] has been picked. People throw the 'experienced' tag around, but I think experience only counts when you’ve achieved on that [highest] stage, which then allows you to pass on that experience. Khune hasn’t done anything great for South African football as yet…” MTN8 winner Paulse is quoted as saying on Sport24.

Former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs also questioned why Khune was selected and feels it is unfair to February.

But 38-year-old Nomvete, who scored 15 goals for the South Africa Under-23 side early in his long career, believes the nation should support the decision to include the Kaizer Chiefs number one.

“We need Khune's experience although I don't choose, but it is the coach who decides which player he needs to work for him to guide youngsters,” Nomvete tells

“But all I can say we need to offer our support, rally behind the team that was selected because there is no way we can change the situation now. We are now only looking in one direction of being successful and hopefully come back with something which I hope will excite the nation.”

‘Bhele’ maintains that South Africa will not suffer stage fright against the young Selecao because they themselves defeated them 3-1 at the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000.

“I believe in the boys and I think they will fight. It doesn't mean when you talk about Brazil that you are talking about the god of football, no, and they are not,” he adds.

“We were able to defeat them when they had the best team and this Brazil side only has Neymar, and there is only Neymar, and he can’t do it all on his own.

“But for us, I believe we didn't qualify by mistake and we qualified by hard work. I still believe that we will come back with something different in our first game against them.”

After the first game for Da Gama's boys they will face Denmark on August 7 and finish the group against Iraq on August 10 in Sao Paulo.