Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune says he will rise above the criticism to send an example to the crop of youngsters emerging in the squad.

Khune had been on the periphery of the Chiefs squad for the past four seasons, featuring in only 29 league games out of a possible 120.

But he’s managed to get back into the starting eleven ahead of Brandon Petersen and Bruce Bvuma who were afforded chances ahead of him by Arthur Zwane this season.

With two clean sheets in eight games and conceding four goals against AmaZulu last week, criticism has risen against the former Bafana Bafana captain over his place in the squad.

“I think to be fair, football is a team sport and yes when the team is not doing well, certain individuals will be labeled, will be given names,” Khune said ahead facing Mamelodi Sundowns.

“But I think that’s what brings the best out of me, as a leader you can’t run away from the situation we’re facing. You have to face it head-on, other players look up to you as a role model, as a senior member of the team.

“If I shy away from the situation or criticism, that means I’m not willing to grow. So I’m willing to grow as a leader, I’m willing to grow as a footballer and I’m willing to learn as a human being.

“There’s a lot of youngsters in the team who can learn a lot from me. With situations like this, I have to rise and give better performances than against our previous opponents, so yes we’ll be given names, but one game doesn’t define and individual.

“I’ve played for over two decades, given names before, but how I bounce back is more important – I don’t like talking about myself, we’re a team and we’ll bounce back as a team.”

Chiefs host the reigning champions who are on a 11-match winning run in the DStv Premiership – at FNB Stadium this evening (20h00).

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