Hlompho Kekana proud of Mamelodi Sundowns charges despite CAF Champions League exit
Posted: 29 September 2017 Time: 17:30
Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana says he is immensely proud of his squad despite their failure to progress beyond the CAF Champions League quarter-finals.
The reigning African champions fell short in their bid to defend their crown this year, after they were eliminated in a penalty shootout by Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca last weekend.
Having gone all the way to lift their maiden title last year, Kekana feels their journey into the knockout stages was a huge achievement in itself, and remains motivated to go back and challenge in the future.
“We were disappointed after not qualifying for the semi-finals, but we’ve lost so many important games before and for us to mourn about this is very unfair to ourselves,” argued Kekana.
“We’ve gotten so much joy from our campaign, so we have to also take the lessons that we can’t win every match. We have to be realistic.
“The fact that we got to the quarter-finals after winning the Champions League is a huge achievement for Mamelodi Sundowns, and that motivates us as players.
“As players it also makes us appreciate the journey and we look forward to the next one, next year.”
Pitso Mosimane’s side will have until next year March to regroup before they restart their continental quest for a fourth consecutive campaign, along with second-time entrants Bidvest Wits.
Kekana, who has led the team over the past two campaigns, emphasises his pride in his teammates and reserves praise for young Motjeka Madisha, who endured his first spell in the Champions League.
“I’m very proud of the team, especially the younger ones who have never played in this stage before but look at them, they came and made sure we win matches that were really tough to win,” he added.
“We went to Ethiopia and managed to win under difficult circumstances [against St George], so we should really just be proud of ourselves and make sure we grow from that.
“We’ll be back [in the competition] next year, so that means we will have to go all the way and try to win it again.”