Kaizer Chiefs Captain, Itumeleng Khune, will make his highly anticipated return to Amakhosi’s starting line-up when they take on German Bundesliga outfit, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, at FNB Stadium tonight (7.30pm).
Khune’s return, as well as the possible club debut of new signing from Chippa United, striker David Zulu, were confirmed by Chiefs assistant coach Doctor Khumalo who will be in charge in the match.
Having just recovered from a bout of flu, head coach Stuart Baxter, will be observing his team’s first match of the year from the stands.
With much speculation on the future of soon-to-be out of contract Khune, the star keeper’s performance will be the major attraction in the match against Hoffenheim tonight.
The 27-year-old has recovered from a foot injury that has kept him out of action since September last year.
Khumalo said: “Since we resumed training, Itu has been part of the team and never mentioned anything about leaving Chiefs. From the looks of things, he is 100% in training. He’s talking about a future at the club, although I can’t be sure what will transpire.”
However, Chiefs have most likely seen the back of striker Kingston Nkhatha. The burly Zimbabwean is expected to be released this month after signing a pre-contract with SuperSport United for next season.
Nkhatha has been a victim of booing from Chiefs’ supporters this season – and news of his impending departure could lead to further abuse if Amakhosi risk playing him from now until the end of the campaign.
Chiefs’ football manager, Bobby Motaung, indicated this week that they were trying to find a solution regarding Nkhatha, which has now paved the way for the introduction of Zulu and another possible long-term injury returnee, Katlego Mphela.
For Chiefs, the game is also a much-needed practice match after the league recess before they resume a heavy second half schedule.
The unbeaten Absa Premiership log leaders take on Bloemfontein Celtic at Free State Stadium on 11 February, shortly before opening their Caf Champions League programme against Botswana’s Township Rollers a few days later.
The Nedbank Cup last 32 stages will also be part of the tough schedule next month.
Khumalo said: “What we’re hoping to get out of this game is a recap of Chiefs’ intentions and the tactical approach that has made us consistent this season. There’s been a lot going on, like Kingston leaving.”