Itumeleng Khune: Five options available to veteran goalkeeper as Kaizer Chiefs contact runs out

The Amakhosi legend has tough choices to make as his long stay in Naturena comes to an end

Kaizer Chiefs legend Itumeleng Khune is seemingly coming to the end of his career at the club with his contract running out this month.

There has not been an indication that Chiefs will extend his deal but the player and his camp remain hopeful.

Khune has been at Chiefs for 25 years, joining the Glamour Boys as a 12-year-old, and has seen the highs and the lows at Naturena.

However, like every player, Father time has caught up with the 37-year-old and his contract ends at a time when he is in a weaker position than the club.

Chiefs are looking forward to a major squad overhaul under Tunisian coach Nasreddine Nabi, who is reportedly set to take over the hot seat, after a poor campaign that saw them finish 10th and Khune is among a host of out-of-contract stars whose futures are up in the air.

It leaves the goalkeeper with a big decision to make but there are a number of options available to him as his deal enters its final week.

Extend Chiefs stay

Khune might have been a bit-part player in the last few years but his experience is still valuable to the club.

Goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, the current Chiefs No1, recently explained how the veteran has been helpful to his career and that knowledge and experience is something that Nabi could do with.

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Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune during a past PSL match. Photo: Imago

Khune himself has admitted he would like to stay and also said he is not looking to hang his gloves anytime soon.

That might see the two parties reach an agreement on a short-term deal which would extend Khune’s stay but the player would have to agree to a major pay cut for that to happen.  

Seek playing time elsewhere

With his insistence that he still wants to play, Khune would not lack opportunities if Chiefs decide to cut ties.

What he would have to agree is that none of either Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns will be coming in for him. Therefore, a stint at one of the lesser sides in the PSL is what is likely to be available.

With his experience, teams in the second half of the table could gain from having Khune in goal which would also give the player an opportunity to become a regular in the PSL after his peripheral role at Chiefs in recent years.

Take up a role at Chiefs

Despite his recent disciplinary issues, which saw him suspended for allegedly turning up to work intoxicated, Khune is still a popular figure at Chiefs given his nearly three decades of service.

That would make him a hit for the marketing department who can utilise him as an ambassador for the club.

Chiefs have allowed many legends to leave the club but they might want to do it differently with Khune who would become a poster boy for their activities.

Talk of Khune becoming a club ambassador surfaced in February and it may be time to seriously consider it.

Coaching job at Chiefs or elsewhere

Another role that is reportedly also being considered is a place on the technical bench for Khune at Chiefs.

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Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune makes a save. Photo: Imago

“They have lost many legends to other teams before and they don’t want to do the same with Itu and that’s why they are offering him a job and a contract in the coaching department. Of course, it will do with goalkeeping coaching but (he can) also help in other areas,” a source told Soccer Laduma in February.

“He is a legend and they want to honour him as such, hence the talks which are ongoing about his new post at the club.”

It would be fitting that Chiefs decide to use Khune’s experience to the benefit of other goalkeepers at the club.

This appears to be the most likely option for both parties but if it does not materialise, Khune can seek a job elsewhere, where he would serve as a goalkeeper trainer as he starts to transition from playing into coaching.

Punditry

Highly unlikely at this moment but Khune can consider retirement altogether and join the growing list of PSL legends who have become TV pundits.

His former Bafana Bafana team-mate Teko Modise has transitioned well from the pitch to the TV screens and Khune would not struggle given his popularity, understanding of the game and eloquence.

He had an audition of sorts during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations when he gave some insightful analysis on SABC Sport and many of those could be in the offing if he opts for this route.

‘Brand Khune’ is still a huge draw for fans and viewers which broadcasters would seek to leverage on. 

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Joel Oliver

Joel Oliver is a seasoned multimedia sports journalist with a rich background in covering diverse football stories and events in South Africa and beyond.

His extensive coverage spans subjects touching on the PSL, with a focus on the Big Three (Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs & Mamelodi Sundowns), Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana.