Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt dropped a bombshell when he revealed that No1 goalkeeper Darren Keet’s decision not to sign a contract extension at the club was the main reason behind the player’s relegation to the sidelines.
Discussions between Wits and Keet have failed to produce a breakthrough and Hunt hinted in his trademark forthright manner that the deadlock led to the Bafana Bafana keeper exclusion from the club’s recent matches. “It’s not like that here (management influencing the starting lineups on the field)‚” Hunt said.
“I’ve been told to do what’s best for the football club in the long-term‚ so what is best for the football club?
“I haven’t been told not to play him (Keet) but I have been told to do what’s best for the football club.
“But don’t worry it’s not like that here (management telling coaches who to field)‚ otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
Keet last featured for Wits on March 30 in a Nedbank Cup quarterfinal clash against Chippa United.
Since then he has missed three vital league matches against Orlando Pirates‚ Chippa United and the 3-1 home victory over Black Leopards on Wednesday night.
The goalkeeper’s inactivity at Wits could have serious implications for Bafana.
Keet is expected to don the Bafana No1 jersey at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in June after impressing in the recent qualifier against Libya.
He ably stepped up to the plate and filled the gloves of the injured Itumeleng Khune and in the process helped to ease fears over who should fill the goalkeeping berth.
And with Kaizer Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp crushing talk of Khune being included in the Afcon-bound squad as a late addition‚ Keet is widely viewed as the ideal replacement.
Middendorp warned Bafana boss Stuart Baxter this week that expecting Khune to be ready for the Afcon finals in June and July would be highly unrealistic.
The German coach said that in his opinion Bafana and Chiefs’ stalwart No 1 has no chance of recovering from his long-term shoulder injury in time for Egypt 2019‚ where South Africa meet Ivory Coast in their first Group D game on June 23.
Keet produced a stellar performance when Bafana beat Libya 2-1 in Tunisia last month to ensure qualification for the continental competition.
Hunt said while he would have wanted to use Keet‚ he still had to listen to the wishes of the Wits management after they said they preferred Ricardo Goos in goals as his future with the club was more secured.
“Look‚ the situation is that Darren hasn’t signed a new contract (with Wits)‚” said Hunt when quizzed about why his No1 was twiddling his thumbs on the bench.
“His people and our people are still talking and there’s been no agreement.
“I’ve got to do what I have been told. ‘Do what’s best for the football club in the long-term’.
“So what’s best for the club‚ let’s make a decision.
“Darren has been our number one and he is still our number one‚ but if you don’t want to stay you must play Goos now (in preparation for next season).”
Keet has in the recent past not ruled out the possibility of returning to Europe.
He said he would not sign for any club in South Africa other than Wits if a move to Europe failed to materialise.
Last month Keet told TimesLIVE that he would turn down Mamelodi Sundowns even if Patrice Motsepe’s champions dangled a R1m per month carrot in front of him.
Keet also reportedly rejected an offer from Kaizer Chiefs in January‚ informing the Naturena club of his desire to return to Europe at the end of the current campaign.