Hlompho Kekana serves secret ban under cover of ‘rest’
Sundowns captain back against nemesis Wydad after hushed-up punishment for shoving referee
Mamelodi Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana quietly served a four-match ban after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) slapped him with a misconduct charge for shoving a referee.
The midfielder was sent to an early shower after pushing the referee in a 2-1 away defeat in the first leg of a CAF Champions League preliminary round against AS Otoho of Congo Brazzaville in August‚ but Sundowns managed to keep the news of his ban away from the media and the public.
Contrary to claims that coach Pitso Mosimane was resting the 34-year-old in the past few weeks‚ he was actually quietly serving his punishment.
Sundowns acting GM Yogesh Singh confirmed that the player is returning from a four-match ban. “Yes I can confirm that Hlompho Kekana was handed a four-match ban during our match in Brazzaville in the Congo in August‚” Singh said on Wednesday.
Kekana has served his ban and is available for selection for Saturday’s match, Singh said.
With Sundowns trailing AS Otoho 2-1 in the first half of the encounter in the Congo capital of Brazzaville‚ Kekana received a throw-in near the centre line and made a storming run with the ball at his feet, beating four opponents before he was adjudged to have fouled a defender on the edge of the hosts’ box.
The Sundowns captain reacted angrily and allowed his emotions to get the better of him.
With a yellow card already out waiting to be flashed in his face‚ Kekana had his moment of madness as he pushed the official. The referee did not hesitate in sending him off.
A disciplinary hearing was not held, but as per the CAF disciplinary code a player suspension due to a red card as a result of misconduct against a match official equates to four matches.
Kekana also missed out on the 16-1 aggregate second-leg win over Cote d’Or of the Seychelles. He served the last match of his ban in the trouble-free 3-0 win over Angolan outfit Petro de Luanda at Loftus in the first match of the Champions League group stages at the weekend.
Kekana was part of the Sundowns squad that flew to Morocco on Monday for their titanic Champions League clash against nemesis Wydad Casablanca.
The match will kick off at 9pm SA time on Saturday, with the Brazilians looking to get a result that will keep them at the top of Group C after the second match day.
Sundowns are yet to taste victory against Wydad in Casablanca, and the return of Kekana with several other key players will be welcome news for the club.
Mosimane’s charges have four consecutive losses against Wydad. In eight encounters between the two sides the Brazilians have claimed two wins and as many draws while the Moroccan giants boast four wins.