Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana doesn't want a repeat of last season. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Hlompo Kekana describes as heartbreaking what Bidvest Wits denied him last season, which is why he is driven to make amends for that and help Mamelodi Sundowns make history.

The 32-year-old has already etched his name in the Brazilians’ history books by becoming the club’s first captain to lead them to Caf Champions League glory which he did in 2016.

But Kekana is yet to lift a domestic trophy as Sundowns’ captain since taking over from Ramahlwe Mphahlele two years ago.

Last season he came close to doing so but Sundowns fell at the last hurdle in the Absa Premiership race, allowing Wits’ to swoop in and win the league for the first time in the club’s history in almost a century.

As the Clever Boys were lifting the trophy on the last day of the season, coach Pitso Mosimane vowed Sundowns would reclaim it.

The Brazilians are five matches away from achieving that objective. One of those matches is against Wits today at Loftus Versfeld (6pm kick-off).

These two clubs have played only one draw in their last 10 meetings and in the last decade Wits have only won one match in Pretoria.

“Statistics don’t mean much at this stage of the season,” Kekana said. “Every team that you play against is fighting for something which makes it tricky.

“But with that said, if you don’t play your normal game and if you don’t play according to plan, you will not get the positive result that you want.

“Tactics don’t work much when we are playing against Wits because it’s very personal. Wits fight. They don’t want to give us space to breathe.

“We are anticipating a very difficult match.”

Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana wants to lead his team to a league title win. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

A win for Sundowns will give them a six-point lead at the summit with four matches to go. It would mean even more to get that cushion at the expense of Wits who pipped Sundowns for the league title due to the Clever Boys’ strong finishing while the Chloorkop-based side registered four draws in their last five matches in the last campaign.

“We are in a good space and we have created breathing space between us and our rivals,” Kekana said.

“It’s a stress-reliever that we have our destiny in our hands. If you look at the way things are at the moment, we are okay. But we need to win matches to stretch the gap.

“It was very sad when we lost the league. It was heartbreaking for some of us because we thought we deserved the trophy last season.

“With the amount of good performances that we gave throughout the season, we thought that we deserved the league. But it didn’t work out that way. We dropped crucial points towards the end of the season.

“This time around we want to try and rectify the mistakes that we committed last season so that we make amends both for ourselves and our fans.”

The Brazilians’ experience, especially their ability to grind out results, is coming in handy in the final stretch.

Sundowns weren’t that flashy in their wins over Baroka FC and Cape Town City, they just managed the game well and were effective when it mattered.

They picked up that trait from their involvement in the Champions League where it’s not about how you play but rather how effective you are.

“It’s crucial that we continue with the fighting spirit that we have been displaying, especially if you look at how things are going in the league race,” Kekana said.

“We really need to fight if we want to reclaim the trophy. At the moment the guys are on the right course.

“We try so hard to ensure that we don’t lose matches, which is very important for the club.”

Saturday Star

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