29 March 2016
By Shamin Chibba
South African defensive midfielder Hlompho Kekana scored one of the best goals of the weekend when he shot from 70 yards out to beat Cameroonian goalkeeper Guy N’dy Assembe. Now, many are calling it a strong candidate for the FIFA Puskas Award for goal of the year.
Media, fellow players, coaches and supporters took to Twitter to show their appreciation for the strike.
— Roger Da Costa (@rogerdac) 26 March 2016
Wow !!!! What a goal!!! What a strike!!!! ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ by Hlompo
— Bernard Parker (@BernardParker) 26 March 2016
Kekana also took to Twitter, to thank his supporters.
Thanks everyone for the messages. Feel honored to make South Africans proud, and now we look ahead to the next game.
— Hlompho Kekana (@Hlompho_Kekana) 27 March 2016
Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba said it was one of the best goals he had ever seen and had a chance of winning the Puskas Award. “And if doesn’t win the (Puskas) award in world soccer, then I would say there is something wrong.”
Bafana Bafana drew 2-2 in their Afcon qualifier against Cameroon in Limbe on Saturday, 26 March. South Africa twice gave up the lead to give the Indomitable Lions a draw.
Watch Kekana’s wonder strike:
British media have been in awe of the 30-year-old since Saturday. The Guardian newspaper likened his goal to David Beckham’s against Wimbledon on the first day of the 1996-97 Premier League season.
— Guardian sport (@guardian_sport) 26 March 2016
Mirror Sport already believes Kekana has wrapped up the Puskas Award. Reporter Richard Innes suggested that it was even better than Beckham’s scorcher.
“It’s not just that he scores from his own half. Plenty of players have got lucky with a long-rage ‘hit and hope’ in the past. This is not one of those instances,” he wrote. “There’s no luck involved; it is a very deliberate, brilliantly executed bit of skill. The Cameroon keeper doesn’t do much wrong; there isn’t even a lot of goal for Kekana to hit.”
The game against Cameroon marked Kekana’s return to international football after two years. He said he had practised shooting from such range during his training sessions at Mamelodi Sundowns. “I’ve been practising that type of goal at my club for the past four months and am glad it all came together yesterday.
“At training I would hit more than 10 such balls without success, so you can imagine the joy of that goal against such a powerhouse.”
Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico in the 2010 FIFA World Cup opener at Soccer City was the first time a South African was nominated for the Puskas Award. However, he lost out to Turkey’s Hamit Altintop.
Relive Tshabalala’s goal against Mexico:
South Africa will host Cameroon at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium tonight. They will need to win their remaining three Group M matches if they are to qualify. They currently have two points from three games, five points behind leaders Cameroon.