WHENEVER Portugal gets on the field with Cristiano Ronaldo in their team, they know that a free-kick close to the opposition goals is a glorious scoring opportunity. Argentina, or Barcelona know that an in the mood Lionel Messi dancing on the edge of the box is as good as a goal.
Equally so, Bafana Bafana have come to acknowledge that with Itumeleng Khune in goal and the team presented with a counter attacking opportunity from a corner or free-kick, that too can result in a goal. That is because Khune’s distribution is so impeccable and refined that even opposition players in the PSL wish they could receive that kind of service from their own midfielders.
Stuart Baxter’s team missed Khune’s top drawer saves against Cape Verde in the two losses in group D, but when he returned, Baxter and the nation realised they have gained something better, top class distribution. Both Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi’s goals in Bafana’s 3-1 victory came from Khune’s pinpoint distribution and the Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana keeper is pleased that his hard work is bearing fruit.
“I think everyone has seen on my social platforms how much I practise my distribution. I don’t only practise when I’m at work but even in my spare time, in my backyard at home.
“I always go crazy and look for anything, even a toothpick, just to distribute the ball to, so it doesn’t only happen at work. “On the football pitch it takes a lot of hard work, practise and repetition to be able to be that accurate,” Khune said.
“For me, a lot of players in the PSL tell me, ‘I wish I can play with you so you can distribute to me’ and it humbles me.” Another admirer of Khune’s distribution is Bafana coach Baxter. “I’ve coached a lot of goalkeepers all over the world and if you’re talking about distribution then Itu is world class.
“My son’s a goalkeeper coach and he tells me he’s never seen anybody distribute a ball as confidently. “ I have to admit, when I first arrived at Chiefs and he was kicking balls through the midfield and was hitting the strikers, I was panicking. But he taught me to relax,” Baxter said.