The No.1 jersey has always been within Jody February’s sights, just rarely on his body. When he has finally worn it, that moment doesn’t last long with competition for the jersey getting stronger.
That could change after the Olympics.It would be fitting because February played a big part in taking the national Under-23 team to Brazil. His shot-stopping abilities helped the team finish third in Senegal during the Eight Nations last year which served as qualifiers for the Olympics.
He took over from Ricardo Goss in goals and never looked back to the days of him being the deputy.
But he returned to Ajax Cape Town to play second fiddle behind Anssi Jaakkola. When he thought that he would break free from those shackles with the Under-23s in the Cosafa Cup, he had to compete with Reyaad Pieterse.
It won’t change at the Olympics where Itumeleng Khune is one of the two over-age players selected.
“Goalkeepers don’t compete, we complement each other,” February said.
“Having someone as experienced as Khune can only make me and (Nkosingiphile) Gumede (who is on stand-by) grow. I am happy that Khune is here because he can help me so much in aspects of my game that I lack in. He knows what it takes to play in a global competition. He will push us to excel. I am working with one of the best and that will help me in my game because these Olympics are going to be huge for me.
”In the short time that Khune has spent with February in camp, the 20-year-old has become more vocal. It’s an aspect that he and the team have lacked in the past. If February improves, this could be a defining moment for his career. The No. 1 jersey is vacant at Ajax Cape Town after Jaakkola joined English side Reading. There is also an opening in Bafana Bafana for a person who can challenge and back Khune.
“A good showing at the Olympics would be a perfect foundation for achieving this, and his parents will be in Brazil to support their son in this huge fight.“They’re coming just for the group stage matches,” February said.
“Their presence is a good motivation because they have supported me throughout my career. They were always there for me in junior competitions. They took me to each game. They would be there watching me even when I told them that it’s fine they don’t have to come. I would hear them shouting for me during the Bayhill tournament. That great support structure has pushed me to excel.”