Steve Komphela made it very clear that Itumeleng Khune won’t walk his way back into his starting line-up following Kaizer Chiefs’ Carling Black Label Cup defeat against Orlando Pirates at the weekend.
Pirates won 4-3 on penalties, after it was 1-1 after 90 minutes.
Though Khune, who decided to mend old ties over contractual issues with Amakhosi in last week, might be the most experienced shot-stopper at the club, Komphela said he would need to earn his place in the starting line-up just like everyone else.: “No-one has the God-given right to walk back into the starting line-up of any team. You’ve got to work for it.
“If you look at (Saturday’s) game Reyaad (Pieterse) had a good game. Itu is a good ‘keeper and we’ve welcomed him back. But he still needs to earn his place in the team.”
Komphela’s quest of helping his new club to defend their MTN8 title starts with a clash against his former club Maritzburg United on Wednesday evening at FNB Stadium.
The Amakhosi coach, who led the Team of Choice to their first Top Eight finish last season, said the defeat against Pirates has given him an idea of what areas he needs to work on. “It’s never a ‘friendly’ when Chiefs and Pirates meet. We showed great improvement in the second half compared to the first and controlled the game a lot better. We looked promising but I still believe there are areas in which we need to improve ahead of Wednesday’s game.”
The 48-year-old former Bafana Bafana assistant coach is well aware he will need a competitive squad to help him dismantle a Maritzburg side he built up last season. Having worked with Mandla Ncikazi during his time at Maritzburg, Komphela is under no illusion that Ncikazi won’t be holding back in this quarter-final clash. But, despite injury concerns, the Chiefs coach is confident his side will produce the needed win to progress further in the competition.
“(Erick) Mathoho is back in training,” he said of the towering defender who has just returned from a toe injury. “We just need to get him fit again.”