It’s not only Kaizer Chiefs who are finding it difficult to fill the massive void left by Itumeleng Khune through a shoulder injury – even national team coach Stuart Baxter conceded that life without the goalkeeper is not for the timid.
South Africa will be away to Libya late next month in their final Group E qualifier for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, and they will be without the shot stopper for the first time on their road to the tournament.
“I think it’s a difficult one for the keepers going in after Itu,” the Bafana coach told journalists. “Who goes in after David Beckham? You can do okay, but did you do as well as Itu? So that one heightens the pressure for whoever is going in.”
Darren Keet and Ronwen Williams have been picked alongside Khune during the qualifiers, but the coach not only has to make a decision regarding who will start against Libya, but which third goalkeeper to bring in.
“I would want a goalkeeper that is confident and is going to do the job. I don’t want someone going in and thinking this is a big test for me – but someone who goes in saying ‘wow, what an opportunity I’ve got here’. Khune is out and as far as I know he won’t be 100 percent fit and we don’t have a date yet (when he will be back). So the No.2 is going in to stake a claim. I want someone to go in and do that, not just to try and survive.”
There’s no official return date set yet for Khune, meaning he is in danger of missing the Afcon if Bafana, who only need a point against Libya, qualify.