by AKANI CHAUKE
POLOKWANE – AFTER missing out on the Puskás Award again, Hlompo Kekana has earned some measure of consolation after receiving recognition by the government in his home province.
According to the final nomination list released by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) on Friday, the Mamelodi Sundowns captain’s goal nominated for the accolade did not make the cut for the top three ahead of the awards to be conferred on Thursday.
However, the Limpopo Department of Sports, Arts and Culture has honoured the midfielder from Zebediela with a special award for that nomination as well as guiding perennial title winners Sundowns to the League and Cup treble last season.
The award has been bestowed at an event organised by the department at a local hotel to honor and recognise the province’s sports stars that excelled in their disciplines between October 2019 and October 2020.
The 35-year-old Kekana is one of five recipients of the Special Award, conferred by Thandi Moraka, the Sports, Arts and Culture Member of the Executive Council (MEC).
Other recipients are overseas-based Banyana Banyana stars, Rhoda Mulaudzi and Lebogang Ramalepe, reigning Premier Soccer League (PSL) Referee of the Year, Jelly Chavani, and driver, Moshikaro Moagi.
“This year’s awards are aimed at decorating, recognising and paying tribute to athletes, teams, technical officials and sports fans for their efforts in keeping the passion of sport alive even during the global COVID-19 pandemic,” MEC Moraka stated.
The special award is consolation for Kekana, whose trademark long range stunner against Cape Town City last season was nominated for the FIFA Puskás award but he lost out for the second time following a similar nomination in 2016 for his 60-metre goal against Cameroon.
Named after Hungary and Real Madrid legend, Ferenc Puskás, the award recognises a player judged to have scored the most aesthetically significant, or “most beautiful”, goal of the calendar year.
Meanwhile, at the awards in Limpopo, Kekana’s club and Bafana Bafana teammate, defender Motjeka Madisha, was recognised in the Gold category for playing a significant role in the rampant Downs’ 2019/20 treble.
Another Banyana star, Nomvula Kgoale, was recognised in the Silver category for helping the women’s national team to a fourth successive fourth successive Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Championships in November.
– CAJ News