Coaches Pitso Mosimane and Muhsin Ertugral both praised Mamelodi Sundowns’ captain Hlompho Kekana after the skipper led the Brazilians to a 1-0 win over Maritzburg United on Wednesday in the Absa Premeirship at Loftus Versfeld.
Kekana scored the winning goal, one of his famous thunderous strikes outside the box. He didn’t only score but he also controlled the match well, bossing the midfield and helping out in defence.
The win moved Sundowns to within five points of Bidvest Wits with three games in hand. Ertugral described Kekana as “one of the best players in the country”.
“We analysed Sundowns well, 70% of their ball possession start from Kekana,” Maritzburg United’s coach, Ertugral said.
Kekana has been a consistent figure in the Premier Soccer League. He was nominated for the PSL’s Footballer of the Year for the last three seasons. But sadly the 33-year-old lost out on the top prize in all three occasions, twice to teammates Khama Billiat and Percy Tau.
“Kekana found the ball that he wants and he hasn’t scored it like that in a while, to be honest,” Mosimane said.
“But the goalkeeper (Richard Ofori) was brilliant with the saves he made. It was a big game played by the captain (Kekana). Tactically, top! Superior. Because he had to help us on the edge of the box and he also made sure that when the ball is played wide quicker, to isolate our centrebacks, he came inside to balance things out on transition. It’s not easy to do that on transition, especially at 33. He is unbelievable. I think that he is getting better and better with time. I don’t know where he gets all of this energy levels. Normally he should be clever, tactically, because of experience and wisdom. But he also has the legs. He played a big game and he helped us. Experience helped us to win this game.”
Sundowns shift their focus to the CAF Champions League. Bafana BaStyle host Wydad Casablanca at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday at 9pm.
Mosimane’s men have to make up lost ground by winning this match having lost to Lobi Stars in Nigeria in their first game in the group stage of the Champions League.