Sundowns star Hlompho Kekana breaks his silence: ‘That would be childish and petty’
Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana has vowed to continue fighting for his place at the club he loves and hopes his lack of game is not a ploy to spite him.
Kekana‚ who has won five league titles‚ the Caf Champions League and the Caf Super Cup among a host of other titles since he arrived at Chloorkop more than a decade ago‚ has seen limited game time this season.
A key part of the team under former coach Pitso Mosimane‚ Kekana has only featured in 10 matches in all competitions this season with players like Rivaldo Coetzee‚ Andile Jali and Mothobi Mvala preferred in the holding role.
“I respect and accept the decisions the technical team have taken because the team is winning‚ but I hope my not playing is not [an attempt] to spite me as an individual because that would be childish and petty‚” Kekana told TimesLIVE.
“I think it is important to clarify there is no problem between myself and the technical team. I can’t take personal issues onto the pitch and I hope that whatever decisions have been taken by the technical team are not trying to prove anything to anybody.”
Kekana’s absence from the starting line-up and the bench in some matches this season has raised eyebrows among Sundowns fans‚ and he clarified he is not injured.
“I am not injured at the moment.
“I am waiting for an opportunity like any other player who has not been playing regularly, and I hope mine will come soon. I am happy the team is doing well and we haven’t lost a match so far this season.
“It is an opportunity for other guys to play and those who are playing must do so knowing they must help the team to win matches. I am happy they are doing well at the moment.
“I am still a player for Sundowns. I believe any player deserves an opportunity to play and I am waiting for my opportunity.”
Kekana said he has attached deep emotions to a club he has represented with distinction for more than a decade.
“I have involved emotions‚ attachment and love for this club and I celebrate every win and every goal we score because I am captain of the club. As a person who has played for the team all these years‚ I am happy they have not lost a match so far this season.
"As Sundowns players we have a responsibility to make sure the team continues to win games and delivers trophies for the supporters.
“It is not about me or any individual.
"The coaches know we all have a responsibility to go onto the field and perform to the best of our ability to help the team to win matches. Whatever decision they take‚ I believe it is for the good of the team and I will always support it because of my attachment to the club.”
The veteran midfielder admitted he misses the adrenalin of combat on the field and will be ready whenever he is called upon.
“I miss the game‚ I miss being out on the pitch‚ but I always train well so that when an opportunity comes I am ready. I don’t know when that opportunity is going to come‚ but the only thing I can do is to continue training well like I have always done in the past.
"It would be nice to have a few minutes under my belt this season because it has been dry.”
The 35-year-old veteran said thoughts of retiring have not crossed his mind.
“I saw Cristiano Ronaldo is my age group and yet doesn’t get questions about when he is going to stop playing.
"I see he wants to return to Real Madrid and explains his desire and passion for the sport. I believe you can only measure yourself with people who are at the level of Ronaldo.”