Ernst Middendorp clears up confusion over Itumeleng Khune’s fitness
Chiefs coach explains there is a difference between full medical fitness and being match-fit to play
Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has explained why his club declared Itumeleng Khune fit just over a week ago‚ yet the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper was not even on the bench in Amakhosi’s Telkom Knockout defeat against Maritzburg United.
There appeared to be some confusion over Khune’s fitness status from a long-term shoulder injury when, in the week’s build-up to Chiefs’ 2-1 Telkom Knockout semifinal defeat to Maritzburg two Sundays ago, Middendorp declared the keeper not ready to play.
On the Friday before the game, a story on Chiefs’ website said that Khune was “fully fit”.
Middendorp said there is no need for confusion. There is a difference — which was not highlighted in the story on the Amakhosi website — between full medical fitness and being match-fit to play.
“I can give you an example‚” the coach said. “I went for surgery. A knee operation‚ two weeks ago. Last week I had a meeting with the surgeon‚ and he said‚ ‘100%‚ medically‚ you are fit’. ‘But’‚ he said‚ ‘Now‚ be careful — step by step‚ building it up’.
“Medically‚ I am fit. But I’m not in a condition that I can run around and do stuff. And this is the same that happens with certain players.”
Middendorp indicated that Khune will not be ready for Premiership leaders Chiefs’ next game against Bloemfontein Celtic at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday. “I don’t see it coming now‚ with a view to the next game. And that is all that I am interested in‚” the coach said.
Khune missed more than half of last season with a shoulder injury. He returned for the full game when Chiefs beat AmaZulu 2-0 in Durban on September 24 but then limped off after 28 minutes when Amakhosi beat Baroka FC 1-0 on September 28.
Middendorp said at the time that he blamed himself for rushing the goalkeeper back into action.