Sometimes there is no other solution to a problem than to simply try, try, and try again. Hlompho Kekana’s wondrous, outrageous goal for South Africa against Cameroon is testament to that.
With the scores locked at 1-1 in their CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2017 qualifier, the midfielder produced a strike from the very top drawer of his repertoire, beating N’dy Assembe from well within his own half. Dispossessing Aurelien Chedjou on the right flank, without taking another touch, he thumped the ball with such exceptional precision it arrowed through the air to leave the goalkeeper without the faintest of chances.
To look at it in isolation, it seems an opportunistic fluke. However, the groundwork had been well laid for this goal. “I have been trying to score such goals at my club, but could not,” Kekana said at full time, reflecting on four months of wayward efforts. “At training, I would hit more than ten balls with none going in and it was frustrating.
“I always check how the goalkeepers leave their lines when the opposition is attacking. After we dispossessed Cameroon, I looked up and saw the keeper well off his line and I took a chance – thankfully, it went in.”
Coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba was visibly overcome with amazement. “Everyone expected him to pass to Tokelo Rantie, who had made a good run forward,” he said. “But his vision was brilliant. He saw the keeper off his line and he had the courage to take a chance. I have seen many beautiful goals being scored, but I don’t think I have seen anything like that.
“It’s the kind of goal that wins awards,” the veteran coach added, making it patently clear where his Puskas vote is going, “and if he doesn’t win any, then I don’t know.”