Friday, 31 December 2010

Spurs New Boy Bongani Khumalo Ear-Marked For FA Cup Debut Against Charlton on January 9

Bongani Khumalo has been ear-marked to make his debut for Spurs on January 9 – against Charlton Athletic in the all-London FA Cup third round clash at White Hart Lane.

With centre-back Younes Kaboul sent off against Newcastle on Tuesday night and fellow defensive buttresses Jonathan Woodgate, William Gallas and Ledley King all still injured, boss Harry Redknapp is “down to the bare bones” in central defence as the New Year dawns.

Redknapp appears to have only Michael Dawson and Sebastien Bassong to juggle with as Spurs face Fulham at home on Saturday followed by Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday night.

Though Khumalo, 23, has had his problems with injury and form as champions Supersports United hover just above the relegation zone in South Africa this season, he may have had a chance of playing in those two upcoming Premier League matches. But the big freeze in England has delayed Khumalo’s arrival in North London.

Spurs are likely to shuffle the pack for the FA Cup clash and if Khumalo - whose first name, Bongani, means happiness - has settled and trained well, a debut against the Addicks is “quite likely”. Others believe he needs a spell on loan in the lower division to adapt to English conditions after his grounding in the mediocre South African Premier League.

Khumalo’s planned flight to Heathrow has been delayed with agent Glyn Binkin admitting: "There's been a slight delay because of all the snow – as you know, the work permit was granted a few weeks ago. We’re just waiting for the final visa to be validated - all the documents we had to send over were caught up in the post as a result of the freeze and things have taken slightly longer than we had anticipated.

"I'm certain he'll travel before the end of the week. Spurs have had a lot of injuries and suspensions so it's going to be a great opportunity when he finally gets to London. I hope he will rise to the occasion."

Spurs remain in contention for both the Premier League – their last two wins over Newcastle and Aston Villa came despite being reduced to 10 men twice – and the Champions League, where they finished top of their Group of Death, ahead of European Champions Inter Milan. They face city rival Milan in the first knock-out game on February 15.

But on the domestic knock-out front, Charlton are a potential stumbling block. The former Premier League club have slumped to League One in recent seasons. But the Addicks remain third in their third-flight division despite picking up only one point in their last three games over the Christmas period.

Khumalo, described by a Redknapp as “an African kid from a poor background” after his trial at White Hart Lane in August, has been at pains to state he is not the archetypal foreign signing. An only child whose father was a language professor, he famously responded: “I’m not one of 14 children. I’m probably quite middle class.”

Handed the captain’s armband by Gavin Hunt at Supersports, Khumalo is expected to achieve great things at Spurs after scoring against France during a World Cup when he was one of Bafana Bafana’s few true successes. But he may take time to settle in, especially with temperatures dipping close to freezing in England, conditions he has rarely had to deal with, growing up in Pretoria with Arcadia and University of Pretoria.

But he may be warmed on his landing in London by the simultaneous arrival of Bafana Bafana team-mate Steven Pienaar. Out of contract at Everton in the summer, Pienaar is being consistently linked to a cut-price £2m move to join the Redknapp revolution when the January transfer window opens.

Who the hell is Neal Collins (nealcol on Twitter)? Read today's Natal Mercury or Star in Johannesburg or see

No comments:

Post a Comment