Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana has described the impression that he might have had a fallout with club’s technical team or is being sidelined to spite him as “childish and petty.”
The veteran defensive midfielder has made 10 appearances across all competitions this season and with Sundowns in good form, his absence has not been felt much.
Rivaldo Coetzee, Mothobi Mvala and Andile Jali have been the favoured choices for the defensive midfield role ahead of Kekana, whose last appearance was the 2-1 league win over Black Leopards on January 27.
But the skipper says he does not take his continued snub personally, as he pours cold water on talk of a rift between him and his coaches.
“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 Times Live.
“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.
“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.
“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 still a player for Sundowns.”
Last weekend, co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi said Kekana is still the team captain.
The armband has, however, recently been exchanged between Ricardo Nascimento and Mosa Lebusa.
Kekana admits that he misses playing as he describes his season as “dry.”
“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,” said Kekana.
“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.
“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.”
Under Kekana’s captaincy, Sundowns won the last three Premier Soccer League titles.