DURBAN – The competition for supremacy between two of the very best Premier Soccer League goalkeepers – Itumeleng Khune of Kaizer Chiefs and Denis Onyango of Mamelodi Sundowns – has divided South African football fans.
The pair have been on top of their game for both club and country in the past decade.
This week Khune himself entered the fray to try and settle the debate on his Twitter account. Onyango, on the other hand, kept silent until IOL Sport posed some questions to him.
“I didn’t want to talk about that issue because it really drives me crazy. Of course, Itumeleng has probably his own issues, but I’ve got no problems with Itu,” Onyango stated
“It is always good to pinch someone and see how he reacts. For me, I believe he knows what he is trying to do. I was actually not happy because it came out at the wrong time for me. For me, I believe that it is not a nice time to bring up such an incident where people are divided in terms of arguing and debating about who’s the best, who is doing that and who has done that,” Onyango stated.
“In these times, we need each other. We don’t need supporters to argue against each other. I might have a neighbour who supports Sundowns and the other supports Kaizer Chiefs and then they will start the debate.
“They will start fighting each other over something that is so small. Yes, it is a good debate for soccer fans but I don’t think it was the right time.
“He has done what he has done with the national team and with his club. I respect that. He has done his part and I’ve also done my part. Let us just respect each other and keep the youngsters motivated, because there’s no point for me to start arguing with Itu. It is up to him to decide what he wants to say.”
Last year, the 34-year-old Onyango was named in Africa’s best XI alongside stars like Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
“I appreciate him going to social media and saying that I’m the best, but it is not up to us as players to decide who is the best. People who watch football and who watch us week in and week out are the ones that should do such things. I have much respect for him. He is a quality goalkeeper and unfortunately he’s been having injuries here and there. I believe he will come back strong.”
While Onyango has enjoyed individual accolades during his time with Sundowns, Khune has also dominated the Goalkeeper of the Season award in the PSL. He has amassed three accolades. In 2013, he was crowned as Footballer of the Season.
Khune has also competed in all major international tournaments (Olympic Games, World Cup, Fifa Confederation Cup and Afcon), while Onyango has the Champions League under his belt.
“I have no issues with him, but we don’t hang out together; we can always bring back the rivalry into football and the hype back.”
By Minenhle Mkhize