Itumeleng Khune urges South Africa under-23 to earn respect at Rio 2016 Olympics


South Africa under-23 goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune says the team are out to earn respect at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and targets a quarter-final berth.

The Men’s Olympic football team are set to kick-off their campaign against hosts Brazil on Thursday evening, with kick-off scheduled for 21h00 (SA time).

Khune, who has joined Owen Da Gama’s side as one of the overage players, says though he doesn’t know much about the home team, South Africa need to go out focus on their own game.

“To be quite honest I don’t know much about their under-23 team,” Khune told reporters in Brazil. “But we are expecting a good team.

“We only know the players who play for big clubs like Marquinhos, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain, and Nerymar. The other’s I have no ide about.

“Nonetheless, It’s our duty to go into tomorrow’s match and play our own game and not worry ourselves too much about Brazil.”

The experienced 29-year-old shotstopper adds that pressure will be on The Selecao in front of their home supporters, and calls on his under-23 teammates to play for respect on one of the world’s biggest sporting stages.

“We know they have a very good squad, they are the hosts and a lot is expected from them, as much as a lot is expected from us back home,” he adds.

“So we aren’t here to add numbers but to earn our respect. We’d like to go as far as we can. We are here to win our matches.

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“It will be a great achievement for us to get out of the group stages because the last team that qualified for the 2000 Olympics didn’t make it out of the group stages.

“So if we can play our hearts out and qualify for the knockout stage, then it will be a big achievement for South Africa.”

Article by: Chad Klate


SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 31: Itumeleng Khune of Bafana Bafana during the South Africa National soccer team training session at UJ Soweto Campus on May 31, 2016 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)