Mamelodi Sundowns have given captain Kekana a tough call to make

The game against the Birds came after Masandawana had secured the 2020/ 21 league championship by beating SuperSport United earlier this week

It was noticeable that Mamelodi Sundowns club captain Hlompho Kekana did not feature at all in the 0-0 draw against Swallows FC at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday.

Now 36, Kekana does not have too many years left at the highest level; although with that said, it’s not uncommon for professional footballers to keep playing into their late 30’s.

But supposing he does still have two, three or even four seasons in his legs – and Kekana is the kind of consummate professional who may well enjoy that kind of longevity – he will want to be playing.

He won’t be expecting to play 90 minutes game-in, game-out, but will want to be seen to be contributing.

As club captain, one might have expected Kekana to have featured against Swallows; it was a game in which the result was ultimately immaterial for Downs after they wrapped up the league title in the Tshwane derby, and the technical team had in any case made numerous changes to the midweek XI.

In total this season the former Black Leopards, Bloemfontein Celtic and SuperSport United central midfielder has played in only eight league matches, three Caf Champions League fixtures and three domestic cup games. Very few of those have been in the starting XI and altogether he’s had just 711 minutes of action for the Brazilians.

This is a player who has played 338 games for the Pretoria club, scored 38 goals, and created 22 assists. A player who has won eight league titles (six with Sundowns, two with SuperSport), the Caf Champions league, the Caf Super Cup and two Nedbank Cups.

He’s used to being an integral part of those successes and of course is known for entertaining with his spectacular long range goals and remains very popular with the fans.

The former Bafana midfielder’s contract with Downs runs up until June 2024, which could mean another three years of potential bench-warming and not being included in matchday squads as the new school of Brazilians like Rivaldo Coetzee and Sphelele Mkhulise, as well as Lebohang Maboe and Andile Jali, stamp their authority on the team.

With that in mind, a move may appeal to Kekana, and he did recently admit his desire to play more often.

“Every player would love to play football matches, especially when you are at my age, you know that there are just a few years left in your legs,” he was quoted saying by the Citizen.

“It is just unfortunate that this season I didn’t even reach 14 matches. Each season I always want to make sure that I break my record of matches that I play. It would be very nice to continue playing until my contract ends.”

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