Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune ended a nightmare run of 11 months to finally be on the winning side when starting a match.
Khune was on the winning side on Wednesday when Chiefs beat Cape Town Spurs 3-2 at FNB Stadium, a much-needed victory ahead of the Soweto Derby number 179th against Orlando Pirates on Saturday.
The last time he started a match and was on the winning side was on 31 December last year, when Amakhosi beat Golden Arrows 2-0 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Since then, Khune, who has been troubled by injuries and weight issues, has been conceding goals and seeing Chiefs lose matches.
After that Arrows match, Khune’s next three games were against Sekhukhune United, AmaZulu and Mamelodi Sundowns, respectively, and Chiefs lost all of them, conceding six, including four against AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in February.
In the 10 matches following those losses, he was on the bench nine times and was absent against Maritzburg United on 18 March this year last season.
He returned to the starting line-up against Moroka Swallows but again, Khune saw Chiefs lose 2-1 in May and also 1-0 against Cape Town City in the last game of the 2022/23 season, when Mdu Mdantsane scored before joining Amakhosi.
This season alone, the skipper, who Chiefs said he will retire at the end to transition to the marketing department of the club, has featured in three DStv Premiership games and one in the Carling Knockout Cup.
In the latter he conceded as Chiefs lost 1-0 to Taariq Fielies’ shot to see Amakhosi crash out in the Round of the 16 against AmaZulu, the first time they had lost to Usuthu in the cup competition at FNB Stadium in the PSL era.
He was also in goals when they lost 1-0 to SuperSport United and Cape Town City, respectively.
But on Wednesday, despite things getting nervy at the end, Khune was back on the winning side, as Chiefs held on to beat bottom-placed Spurs.
The question now to caretaker coach Cavin Jonhson, will Khune start on Saturday in this storied Soweto Derby against Pirates?
The last time Khune played in the Soweto Derby was in the Telkom Knockout semi-final (now Carling Black Label) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 24 November 2018, conceding two goals from Thembinkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga, as Chiefs lost 2-1.
Since then, Khune has missed 13 Soweto Derbies. However, Chiefs have edged Pirates in those matches – winning eight while Pirates have won just five.
Had Khune played in these Soweto Derby matches, he would have become an outright holder of record in this storied fixture, as he has appeared in 27 of them, four behind Siphiwe Tshabalala’s 31 Derby matches, which is a record.