Kaizer Chiefs have two crucial fixtures waiting for them at the other end of the Fifa international break, which they will have to navigate without veteran goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.
Coach Ernst Middendorp revealed on Monday that the 32-year-old has not recovered in time from a groin injury which cut short his participation in what was only his second match back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Kaizer Chiefs suffer Itumeleng Khune blow
He has been ruled out for the rest of the month, meaning he will miss out on Chiefs’ visit to Cape Town City for a Telkom Knockout Round of 16 clash, as well as the league match against Mamelodi Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld.
The shot-stopper, who has been the number one option for both club, and country has played a little over 100 minutes of competitive football in 2019, after missing out of second half of last season through a shoulder injury.
He returned to action on the Heritage Day clash against AmaZulu, where he kept a clean sheet to help Amakhosi to a 2-0 victory.
Middendorp to call on Akpeyi’s capable hands
Khune’s joy was, however, very short-lived as – in the very next fixture – he lasted just 28 minutes as he limped off to be replaced by Daniel Akpeyi, who was later named man of the match.
The Nigerian international has been the man for a crisis for coach Ernst Middendorp, who has promoted him to first-choice in Khune’s absence, ahead of Bruce Bvuma, who seemingly had the honour at the beginning of the season.
Akpeyi has featured in six out of Chiefs’ eight games so far, keeping clean sheets in half of them while conceding only three goals.
What this means for Bafana Bafana
Khune’s unavailability is not only a blow to his club, but to the South African national team as well, who begin their bid for Africa Cup of Nations qualifying in a month’s time.
While it’s yet unclear when he will return to full fitness, it will be a race against time for him should he wish to contend for a spot in the squad travelling to Ghana on 15 November.
Bafana have had to do without Khune for all of their 2019 fixtures, relying on Ronwen Williams and Darren Keet, who have shared the gloves throughout the year.
The duo played 45 minutes apiece in Bafana’s friendly against Mali on Sunday, with the Supersport United shot-stopper starting the game before being replaced by the former Bidvest Wits man at the stroke of half-time.