It’s almost rare for a footballer to have their name prefixed by “legend” during their playing days.
Only a few in the world get to have such a distinction and no player gets adorned with such an ornament unless they are special.
There are good players, great players, exceptional players and special players. The latter are rare gems, who do the unexpected to catapult their teams to greater heights. Think Zidane, Aboutrika, Giggs, Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Drogba, Eto’o, Weah. Then add Hlompho Kekana in that WhatsApp group. No, it’s not a typo.
The Mamelodi Sundowns captain has earned the legendary status. On Saturday night in Algiers, Kekana, celebrating a milestone – 300 matches for Sundowns – reminded all and sundry why he is so revered and still relevant.
The CAF Champions League Group C clash between Sundowns and USM Alger at Stade Mustapha Tchaker was tied at goalless and Kekana, the 34–year-old workhorse raced forward on a press and latched on a defender’s back pass. He then rounded the keeper before slotting in the solitary goal that ensured Sundowns amassed maximum points and stayed at the top of their group with seven points.
After the match a jovial Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane took to Twitter, where he hailed Kekana as a legend.
“Captain our captain. You really did in style on your 300th games (sic). Legend,” wrote Mosimane.
Even before trending across social networks on Saturday night, Kekana has, on constant basis, provided breathtaking performances in the yellow jersey. His trademark shots, from way outside the box, have his name tattooed on the hearts of the yellow nation.
Not many players in the PSL can dish thunderbolts like he does. Kekana’s vision and precision are second to none. His speed of thought and technical application, which happen at the speed of light, are out of this world. He innately has the ability to measure the position of a goalkeeper, the weight of the pass and the velocity of his shot in unimaginable time. Two of Orlando Pirates’ goalkeepers – the late Senzo Meyiwa and Wayne Sandilands were once, if not twice, victims of Kekana’s genius.
“My goal against Orlando Pirates, I only saw Wayne’s socks and I knew where to put the ball. Even at training I score similar goals,” said Kekana.
While on national duty, Kekana, who has 24 Bafana Bafana caps, scored top-notch goals against Mozambique and Cameroon. His strike in Limbe earned him a Fifa Puskas Award nomination in 2016.
Kekana has served the Brazilians with aplomb in a tenure spanning close to a decade.
He has nine medals to show for his stay. Some of the prestigious medals include the PSL championship, CAF Champions League, Telkom Knockout, Nedbank Cup and CAF Super Cup among others.
By Hosea Ramphekwa