Before this season, Hlompho Kekana was averaging about 30 games a campaign since joining Mamelodi Sundowns in 2012.
Kekana has had to become somewhat of a spectator, having played just nine DStv Premiership games, also picking up rare starts in the Caf Champions League and Nedbank Cup where he made four appearances.
It was the likes of Sphelele Mkhulise, Andile Jali, Lebohang Maboe and Rivaldo Coetzee who made sure their captain had no place in the team as they were always preferred by co-head coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena – something that did not sit well with the Downs skipper.
“It was frustrating to be outside, it was hard,” said Kekana, who is pleased, however, that Mkhulise and the likes got the job done for Sundowns and made sure he got his eighth Premiership gold medal.
“I am just happy that the younger ones who were playing were doing the business for the team. At Sundowns, whoever is playing has to make sure that they get the job done. At this point it is about working as hard as I can and I am happy that I am going strong. I can keep up with the younger boys, as you grow older, there are so many things that you need to make sure you guard against,” he added.
Sundowns were hit by two tragic deaths, as Anele Ngcongca and Motjeka Madish both died in car accidents last year. It was a sombre period for the club, more especially for Kekana – the duo were more than just teammates to the 36-year-old.
“It was a strange season for me. At the beginning of the season we lost two boys who were close to me, so emotionally it was not an easy season because there are so many things that were involved. To watch my team playing (from the sidelines) … that has not been happening for years. It was a new environment to find myself in but I have managed to pull through and play whenever I was called,” said Kekana.
“It always feels good for a player to be on the field and I have always said there will be a time when we look back on everything that we have done and say ‘ya we have done what we could for the club’. At this moment I am looking forward to the opportunities to play football matches again,” he added.