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South Africa’s Khune is Deserving of CAF Home-based Player of the Year Award

The West and North parts of Africa have often dominated in Glo CAF awards in previous years with most of the winners being in-field players. However the tables might turn with in-field players likely to be overlooked this time should commitment and performance be key list of criteria of judges.

By the tables turning, the South might fancy a chance and not by sheer force of numbers but on account of performance for Caf’s Best African Home-based Player of the Year. And if for any reason must any one get the gong, it should be no other than a certain safe pair of hands – Itumeleng Isaac Khune.

That would sure signal a break in tradition –one that will restore sanity in an era attackers are considered invaluable over other field department players.

While Kaizer Chiefs, the South African Premier League side he plays for finished blank last season, Khune has been more than a phenomenon and so rightly earned a place as a nominee for the coveted prize.

Any verdict reached would be based on the last twelve months – a year the Johannesburg-based outfit had zero silverwares but a total twenty-three titles in twelve years still makes valid case for Itumeleng Khune  to become the first goalkeeper, of recent, to land the home-based best player of the year award.

A defender-turned goalkeeper, the Ventersdorp-born took up the gloves by chance after often experiencing chest pain playing inside during a junior game but a contact with youth coach Terror Sephoa, who impressed by Isaack’s flexes in diving for stray ball as a boy-ball, saw him assume the net-minding role permanently. A chance did not come until three years later.

The sale of Rowen Fernandez to German club Armenia Bielefeld and injury to Emile Baron triggered coach Muhsin Ertugral’s fast-tracking of the then 20-year-old and Khune hasn’t looked back since.

The now 29-year-old has proven he could equal his Caf nominated in-field player compatriots for individual honors often used as determinant for the award. His break through season in 2007 won him the Premier Soccer League Player’s Player of The Season, The PSL Club Rookie of The Year, Telkom knockout Player and goalkeeper of the Tournament, Premier Soccer League Goalkeeper of The Season and Kaizer Chiefs Player’s Player of the season.

That would be followed by trophy-laden years in which he scooped the PSL title three times, The ABSA Cup/Nedbank Cup, the SAA Supa8/MTN8, a gong he won thrice the latest been last year.

The CAF Champions League remains the sole cup to have eluded him. Making his 200th club appearance against Mpumalanga Black Aces in 2014, Isaac’s ascension evidently came as no fluke. A 99 clean sheet in 199 games speaks volume.

With a ball distribution described ‘the best you will see anywhere’ by erstwhile Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, Itumeleng is a safe pair of hands and Hannover 96’s expressed interest in the South African proves this.

Though the 29-year-old wouldn’t sign the dotted lines for the Bundesliga club, his consistency in goal had him summoned to the Bafana Bafana having represented the Rainbow Nation in all categories there is in youth football and to this day remains the very first between the sticks.

Khune has a knack of denying the sport’s biggest stars when the occasion demands. His saving of David Villa’s penalty against Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 in the group stages is one case in point and his parrying of a number of mind-blowing attempts from Brazil’s poster boy Neymar in the Rio Olympics is another.

Critics will argue Mamelodi Sundown’s Hlompho Kekana, Keagan Dolly, Itumeleng Khune and Uganda’s goalkeeper Denis Onyango, on the brink of clinching the CAF CL with The Brazilians, are better placed to lay hands on this prestigious award. But Khune –put aside his troubling off –the-pitch flirtatious relationship with girls, is one man you wouldn’t want overlooked for this piece he so deserves.

Come January 5, 2017 in Abuja he will be looking to become the first player from South of Africa to win the prize since Kalusha Bwalya of Zambia in 1988.


Featured Photo: Courtesy of


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