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Kekana will not play for Sundowns again, with club making alternative offers

Mamelodi Sundowns player Hlompho Kekana in the parking lot at the club's Chloorkop headquarters ahead of a training session on August 26 2021.
Mamelodi Sundowns player Hlompho Kekana in the parking lot at the club's Chloorkop headquarters ahead of a training session on August 26 2021.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Inspirational former Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana will not play for the Brazilians again.

The 36-year-old, who represented Sundowns with distinction for more than a decade, is not part of the playing plans for the 2021-22 season and is in discussions with the club on the way forward.

TimesLIVE has it on good authority that Downs have given the veteran central midfielder an option of staying at the club in a different capacity — among the back room staff — or going out on loan, then coming back to be honoured after he retires from playing.

This month Kekana’s central midfield partner in crime, Tiyani Mabunda, retired and took up the role of club ambassador. In the past Surprise Moriri went out on loan to Highlands Park and returned after one season to coach in Downs’ junior structures.

A source, who did not want to be named, said the arrangement has been offered to Kekana.

“The club is committed to honouring the remainder of his contract, which comes to an end at the end of this current season, and they want him to stay beyond his playing days.

“Also being discussed is how they are going to honour him for his outstanding service to the club."

Kekana could not be reached for comment on Friday morning.

This development could be met with mixed reaction from Sundowns supporters, some of whom may argue that his exit should have been sorted out during the off-season.

In his successful stay at Sundowns Kekana helped the Brazilians win six league titles, the 2016 Caf Champions League and the 2017 Caf Super League, among other trophies.

Kekana, who also won two league titles at SuperSport United under coach Gavin Hunt, before he joined Sundowns, is one of the most decorated players in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), along with Brazilians goalkeeper Denis Onyango.

Since Pitso Mosimane left the club as coach late last year, the captain’s armband at Downs was rotated between Ricardo Nascimento, Mosa Lebusa and Onyango, with Kekana seeing less action.

Under co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena, Kekana has seen little game time and last season only made 15 appearances in all competitions, with the likes of Rivaldo Coetzee, Andile Jali and Mothobi Mvala preferred.

Swallows FC was one of the clubs that was seriously interested acquiring Kekana, but they have recruited central midfielders Thandani Ntshumayelo and Mphakamiseni Nene.