At the age of 35, it is expected that a footballer, or any other athlete’s speed will begin to decline and they would not move as quickly as they did a couple of years ago.
As is the case with many footballers in the country, Hlompho Kekana’s speed is understandably on the decline, and that could be part of the reason why he has not had much game time at Mamelodi Sundowns this season.
The Downs midfielder, who has played over 300 games, has not been shut out altogether as he has made ten appearances as he looks forward to his 36th birthday next week Tuesday.
Sundowns co-head coach Manqoba Mngqithi has suggested that Kekana’s speed, or lack thereof, may be why the young Lebohang Maboe, Sphelele Mkhulise and Andile Jali have been preferred in midfield ahead of the club captain.
“As a big team we want to have a very intense No.8 which is why Mkhulise, Lebohang and “AJ” are competing for that space because there is a lot of counter pressing and at times (you need) a little bit more mobility and at times your wide players, Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane, are late to go to fullback,” said Mngqithi.
“The ability of an eight to be able to shift immediately towards the fullback positions and the other eight to pivot and play a double screen in front of the defence, it becomes really important. You need a little bit of mobility and at times when people see other players not playing, they complain but at times, intensity is the deciding factor from what you want to achieve in the team,” he added.