Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompo Kekana. Photo: www.sundownsfc.co.za
DURBAN - Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompo Kekana, has enjoyed a glittering, trophy-laden career but he is yet to represent his country in a major tournament like the Africa Cup of Nations.

Kekana’s time in top football goes back to 2004 when he made his debut with Black Leopards.

The 33-year-old Zebediela-born midfielder has amassed six league titles under his belt. He captured three during his stints with SuperSport United, while the other three triumphs have been at Sundowns. Kekana has also lifted the Caf Champions League, Caf Super Cup, Nedbank Cup and Telkom Knockout crowns.

But while the hard-tackling midfielder might have seen it all at club level on the continent, he is yet to represent his country in a major tournament.

Yes, he has made 24 appearances for Bafana Bafana in which time he has scored five goals, but now he has set his sights on playing in a major tournament so that he can say he has done the business at all levels.

“I’m really eager to play in a major tournament for South Africa as I've not done so up until now. So the Africa Cup of Nations is a good opportunity to do so, if we can qualify. Not only me but the younger players need to compete in such tournaments to gain international experience," Kekana said.

Hlompho Kekana of South Africa during the 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier match between South Africa and Nigeria at FNB Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Hlompho Kekana of South Africa during the 2019 African Cup of Nations Qualifier match between South Africa and Nigeria at FNB Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The industrious midfielder did lead Sundowns during the 2016 Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.

“But as a country we need to play at the highest level. And the Africa Cup of Nations represents a huge chance for me to finally represent my country in a big tournament. I’m looking forward to the next match and hopefully we do qualify," he added.

Bafana will face Libya in their last Africa Cup of Nations qualifier next year in March. They need one point to book their place in Cameroon.

“These games require more mental strength than technical ability. It is going to be difficult game and we need to be strong mentally. But they are beatable. I saw Libya against Seychelles and they struggled. They also struggled against Nigeria.

"They came to us looking for a draw and on the day we created a few chances but didn’t take them. It will be a different ball game altogether when we go there. We're going there to win the match. Nothing less."

Kekana was instrumental for Bafana in the middle of the park against Nigeria as the two nations shared the spoils in a 1-1 stalemate at FNB Stadium.

“It was a good feeling for me to really get some game time with the national team. For me, it was all about adding my value. I was really happy to be part of the team and to contribute where I could,” he said.

@minenhlecr7


Saturday Star

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