at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Cape Town - Hlompho Kekana’s alter ego appeared in front of the media after his scorcher of a goal in Bafana Bafana’s 3-1 African Nations Championship win over Mozambique on Saturday night.
Instead of getting the robust, hard-tackling player who scored a 40-yard screamer in the tournament opener, the media was served up an understated young fellow who preferred to give his teammates “all the credit” rather than boast about one of the greatest goals ever witnessed at the Cape Town Stadium.
His teammates had absolutely nothing to do with the strike, as the Mamelodi Sundowns enforcer decided to try his luck in the 58th minute from an awfully long way out with the game still in the balance at 1-1.
Kekana does have the reputation of a player who can strike the ball with plenty of power. And, after some more probing, he admitted that it’s something that started behind close doors.
“I think it started in training, because we have been practicing similar goals,” Kekana said. “Sometimes those sorts of attempts do not work out as you planned, but today it worked out and credit to the whole team.”
“Credit to the whole team” probably comes naturally to Kekana, as the Bafana anchorman does all the hard graft in the middle of the field to free up attacking players such as Bernard Parker, who scored his 21st international goal with a brace against the Mambas.
Parker asked many questions of the hapless Mozambican line-up on attack in the first half, and converted a penalty after Bafana’s neighbours took shock lead in the 11th minute of the match. Parker’s second goal, and Bafana’s third, was coolly finished off after some good interplay between Siphiwe Tshabalala and Sibusiso Vilakazi around the edge of the Mozambican penalty area.
But Bafana were certainly not accurate enough on attack in the first half, with the final balls not producing the desiredresults.
But they settled down after Parker’s penalty.
The Kaizer Chiefs star admitted that they were maybe a little anxious going into the clash, especially because of the added pressure of hosting the tournament.
“We started off a little slow, but coach woke us up at halftime and said we have to take our opponents seriously and we have to challenge them. If we challenge them in every department, then our quality will show,” Parker told reporters.
“We have been together for a week now, and we wanted to score and we wanted to win. That’s why I think we rushed things a little bit. But I think this win will take a little more weight of our shoulders, and I think in the next game we will be a bit more relaxed and we will make the best of the opportunities we get in the next few games.”
Parker is now just 11 goals behind Benni McCarthy’s Bafana scoring record, and it seems that the player they call “Hond” is gunning for the man who also wore the No 17 jersey for South Africa.
“It’s the lucky No 17 I guess,” Parker joked when asked about the record.
“I’m happy the coach believes in me and the guys believe in me, because they are always giving me the ball. I don’t want to disappoint them, and I think it is possible that I can reach that target and maybe go further than that.”