Although the national Under-23 side only managed a single goal and a sole point to finish rock bottom of Group A, the Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper was instrumental in saving Owen Da Gama’s charges from worse defeats after making strings of brilliant saves in the opening game against hosts Brazil and in the last pool game to Iraq.
“It was a great experience for all of us, especially for me. We got an opportunity to qualify in 2005 but it could not happen. These boys deserve a lot of credit for working so hard for the team to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, and I was roped in by coach Owen as one of the three overaged players. Myself and Eric Mathoho, we came here and learnt a lot from the rest of the team and I just want to take the opportunity and say thank you very much to each and every member of this team for having taught me a lot about life,” said the 29-year-old.
Khune, who was heavily criticised for his selection to start all three games ahead of Jody February, who played an instrumental role in the team’s qualifying stage, says his experience was key to guide the defence which comprised of mostly inexperienced youngsters.
“It was easy for them to listen to my instructions because I have got a good view of the field and whenever I shout out instructions, they were listening and they were positioning themselves well, and we defended very well. When we conceded the goal, we were still very cold and I woke them up, and they listened.
“After we conceded, I think we did extremely well defending their set plays because the only thing that they could do was to dive all over the place and the referee was giving them set plays, and they knew that they are strong aerially but we were able to deal with that after we conceded,” he added.
Khune however added that the lads played their part and should be equally applauded. “To be quite honest, the guys deserve the credit, they are willing to learn, they are good listeners.
Orlando Pirates midfielder Gift Motupa echoed Khune’s sentiments, saying the Olympics have taught them to work as a team.
“I think we did our best, although we did not qualify for the quarterfinals, we did our best as a team and we have learnt that in this kind of tournament, if you want to win you need to work extra hard and work as a team at all times.”