Hlompho Kekana is a stalwart for Mamelodi Sundowns. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
It may not be today, but the day Hlompho Kekana is dislodged as the best player among Mamelodi Sundowns’ current crop, there won’t be too many headaches over his replacement.

This is because the Bafana Bafana kingpin has loads of confidence in his teammates, who also opertate in the engine room.

For six years the Downs stalwart has been wearing his heart on his sleeve in domestic football for the club. Add this to the fact that, over that period, their biggest strength has been in the heart of their midfield, with Kekana nominated for the Footballer of the Season award for the last five consecutive seasons.

However, what makes Kekana a cut above his counterparts is how he appreciates his teammates at Sundowns’ central midfield position.

Sure, Tiyani Mabunda is Kekana’s partner in crime, but the latter also openly welcomed the arrivals of Oupa Manyisa, Lucky Mohomi, Andile Jali, Sammy Seabi and Rivaldo Coetzee, who has recently been converted from a defensive role to a midfielder.

Kekana believes the Brazilians will continue to win matches, regardless of whether he’s available for match-day or not, as they’ve won two out of the last four league matches this term.

“At Mamelodi Sundowns, every individual is important,” Kekana said.

“A fortnight ago, Sundowns won the second leg of the Caf Champions League’s preliminary round and I was not there. And Hlompho Kekana will be absent soon and we will still win matches. I’ve seen the best players currently and, in the past, so it will be unfair of me to compare individuals, but I know they all represent the jersey with pride. I am just fortunate to play at the moment, so let me make the most of my talents.”

Coach Pitso will be hoping to continue with the winning momentum when Sundowns clash with sworn enemies SuperSport United in the MTN8 semi-final first leg at Atteridgeville this afternoon.

At the beginning of the season, the Kaitano Tembo-coached team lost 2-0 to the Brazilians in their Premiership opener.

Matsantsantsa A Pitori will, however, be vigilant of how they approach this encounter, having won two of their last three matches, their only blemish in that period a 1-1 away draw with Kaizer Chiefs in the second round of the league.

SuperSport’s strength has been an ability to blend youth with experience. “I don’t think we’ve changed from the Sundowns’ game. But if you look at the side’s performance, Downs dominated for more that 15 minutes, while we couldn’t do that,” SuperSport captain Dean Furman said.

With both teams set to take a Fifa break after today’s round of domestic matches, the Brazilians get a chance to recharge their batteries for all three competitions - the Premiership, MTN8 and Caf Champions League.


Sunday Tribune