Hlompho Kekana: Predator turned midfielder


He reckons being a striker required less work compared to the central midfield position both his cousins played in when they started out at his former amateur side, Zebediela Junior Swallows FC.

Kekana was still in primary school.

“It was too much work,” Kekana says of the central midfield position.

“I would watch my cousins put in the hard work game-in and game-out. They were running all over the place. They hardly had time to rest.

“I preferred the striker role. It required less work. All I had to do was find the back of the net. That’s all.”

But little did Kekana know that the position he loathed most, would turn out to be the one he would get to play for the rest of his professional football career.

He doesn’t hate it now, though. In fact, he enjoys it.

He enjoys the work that comes with putting in an extra shift in both defence and attack in order to see his side do well.

His fine form and discipline in central midfield has earned him a number of Bafana Bafana call-ups. And he is proud of wearing the jersey.

But of all the call-ups he has earned, there’s one the 31-year-old says he cherishes most. And that is when he was in the team to play in a 2017 Afcon qualifier against Cameroon in Yaounde.

Kekana scored a beauty in that game. He got the ball in his own half and let rip a screamer that beat the hapless keeper.

That masterclass earned him a nomination for the Fifa Puskas award.

Kekana is among 10 nominees which includes the likes of Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Neymar jr who are also in the running for the Goal of the Year award.

“Recently (on Friday), I went on to the Fifa website to check it out again,” Kekana says as he describes the joy of his nomination.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I scored that goal. Honestly, I can’t. To be nominated among the world’s best like Messi and Neymar among other greats - well, it’s a big deal for me.

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“All I ever wanted was to be the best among my peers since I was a kid,” Kekana adds.

“My hard work is beginning to finally pay-off. I’m recognised both in Africa (CAF African Player of the Year nominee) and internationally (Puskas award nominee) and that makes me very happy.”

On the domestic front, Kekana would be delighted to see his side collect maximum points when they host Highlands Park at Loftus Versveld Stadium today (kick-off 3.30pm).

A win would see Sundowns remain eighth on the PSL table after six league games, as they play catch-up following their commitments in the CAf Champions League.

Kekana said it was crucial for his side not to underestimate a Highlands Park side who are yet to register their first league win under coach Gordon Igesund. The Lions of the North are 14th on the PSL table with seven points after nine league matches.

Sunday Independent

Original source: Hlompho Kekana: Predator turned midfielder