Hlompho Kekana eyes history with Mamelodi Sundowns with CAF Champions League defence
Posted: 18 July 2017 Time: 10:24
Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana says the club are determined to join the history books and successfully defend their CAF Champions League crown.
The Brazilians reigned supreme on the continent last year as they beat Zamalek in the final to lift the trophy for the first time in the Chloorkop club’s history.
And, having reached the quarter-finals of the 2017 edition, Sundowns are now on their way to what they hope will be a successful defence of their crown, which would see them become only the third team ever to achieve the feat - behind Al Ahly [2012, 2013] and TP Mazembe [2009, 2010].
And, speaking in the July issue of KICK OFF Magazine, available for download, inspirational skipper Kekana says: “It’s a special moment. It’s a huge thing to play in this kind of tournament because it teaches us a lot in the game and we learn a lot from different teams, different cultures of the teams that are playing in the tournament.
“We are playing with the teams that, when we were young, we used to hear about them. I remember we used to hear about Esperance playing Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge [in 1999], and now we’ve got the opportunity to play against them and it’s something that we are excited to take part in.
“And we are now in the tournament for the third time, but it’s something that we really want to make it a culture here at Sundowns; to try and play in that space [consistently] like the Zamaleks, the Al Ahlys. It helps us to grow as players and you can see even when we play here at home we use some of the experience that we got from the tournament.”
When asked about a potential title defence, the Bafana Bafana midfielder adds: “We want to copy the good things that other teams have done in this tournament – your Al Ahlys. They won this tournament so many times . We want to be remembered as the generation that brought that love of the game into our country.
“I remember in 1995 when, as South Africans, we used to rally behind the national team and Orlando Pirates team that won the [CAF] Champions League. It was one of the best moments, a proud moment, even though when we were young we were not supporting Orlando Pirates.
“But by knowing that Pirates is from South Africa, we had so much joy as young kids. I can say that, personally, there were players in that  Pirates team that really inspired me to be the person and the player I am today.”