Goalies give Bafana an Africa Cup of Nations headache
Coaches says it's very unlikely that first-choice Itumeleng Khune and Darren Keet will be available for Egypt
A goalkeeping crisis is brewing for Bafana Bafana in the build-up to the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in June, with SA’s two best players in this position currently not active at their clubs.
Regular No 1 Itumeleng Khune is almost certain to miss the tournament because he has not played since January as a result of a shoulder injury, unless coach Stuart Baxter does the unthinkable and picks him despite lack of game time.
Second choice Darren Keet has missed the past four matches for Bidvest Wits and is likely to miss the rest of the season, and by the time the tournament starts in June he may not have played for almost three months.
Keet has missed Wits’ games against Orlando Pirates, Chippa United, Black Leopards and SuperSport United, and coach Gavin Hunt is likely to freeze him out for the remaining two matches against Baroka FC and Golden Arrows.
Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp openly said this week that with Khune only back to light training‚ and with three league matches plus the Nedbank Cup final against TS Galaxy remaining this season‚ the prospect of him playing in Egypt is highly unlikely.
Keet, who was in goal for Bafana in the decisive win over Libya during the last qualifying match, is yet to sign a new contract with the Students and Hunt is looking to the future by playing Ricardo Goss.
Hunt said he has been told by management to do what’s best for the football club in the long term and play Goss for the remainder of the season since he is likely to be his first choice next season if Keet departs.
Keet, who is believed to be interested in relocating to Europe with his family, earlier rejected a money-spinning move to Kaizer Chiefs, who were stranded when Khune got injured.
If Khune and Keet would not have played competitive football by the time the Cup of Nations arrives in June, Baxter will have a serious poser in terms of who is going to be the first-choice keeper at the tournament.
Going into a big tournament like the Cup of Nations, a coach needs players who are fully match fit and high on confidence.
But Khune and Keet will not be in that desirable fitness and mental state to be able to stand between the poles.
If Khune and Keet are not able to travel to Egypt, Baxter will be left with Wayne Sandilands and Ronwen Williams as the two main go-to guys for the tournament where Bafana Bafana will be under pressure to at least get out of the group stages.
Khune is unlikely to have any opportunity to prove his fitness by the end of the season, but there are those who argue that Keet can still occupy his position at the tournament because he played for most of the season.
It won’t be bad for Bafana Bafana to have Keet, Sandilands and Williams at the tournament even though Khune, as he has proved on many occasions in the past, is Msanzi’s undisputed No 1.