Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane has shed light on why the club’s captain Itumeleng Khune is not ready to play despite calls for his return.
Khune last featured for Amakhosi in the last season’s MTN8 quarter-final against Mamelodi Sundowns before he fell out of favour for the rest of the campaign.
Zwane insisted that the 35-year-old shot-stopper is not yet ready to be between the sticks, but revealed that he’s in a training “programme” gearing up for action.
‘WE NEED A FIT ITU’ – ZWANE RESPONDS TO CALLS FOR KHUNE RETURN
“You know what’s key when you’re dealing with individuals. First you have to look at his mental state, that’s one,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.
“Is he physically and mentally ready, psychologically ready to got out there and give his best. Yes, Itu has been doing well in training but he’s in a program and the program that he’s in we’re pushing him to be ready to play at the highest level.
“Because should throw him into the deep end? Yes, he has experience, he can help, we know. But we need a fit Itu, a focussed Itu, an Itu where we know when he’s in there [starting XI] he’s going to add value.”
Khune has alluded to the fact that he wants to play until he is beyond 40 years of age and is not looking to retire anytime soon.
And with Zwane giving him the armband before the season started, it implied that he wanted to utilise the ‘Spider-Man’.
However, the Kaizer Chiefs mentor added that Khune’s experience alone wouldn’t be of help if he’s not well prepared physically.
‘WE’LL GIVE HIM THE OPPORTUNITY’
“Otherwise, we’re going to throw him in with the hope that he uses his experience but if he’s not physically ready then might also count against him and haunt the team going forward,” he added.
“We protect all the players, it’s not only Itu. Maybe the question right now is about Itu, but all the players we treat them the same.
“We’re trying to make sure that they’re all ready and we could see that when you look at the way we want to play, it demands, it takes a lot from our players and our boys they’ve responded positively.
“Yes, the results haven’t been forthcoming but we try to give everyone a fair chance and when Itu is ready to play we’ll definitely give him the opportunity to play because we need experience, but we want him to be ready to compete.”