NEWS: Grant Kekana is looking forward to being the latest member of his family to serve South Africa after receiving his maiden Bafana Bafana call-up for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers.
The son of the deputy minister in the presidency, Pinky Kekana, Grant is on the verge of making his Bafana debut against Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium tonight.
Grant Kekana Mother Pinky Kekana
“My mother is a sports girl, but on a political scale, so yes (representing the country runs in the family). She’s the deputy minister in the presidency,” Kekana told Safa media from Rabat.
“I am here to play sports and I am trying to make the best out of it. I’m trying to give my all. I think that’s all one can do; it doesn’t happen often that you represent your country. So, grab the chance.”
Kekana might be in the queue to become the latest member of his family to be the country’s flag bearer, but it wasn’t because of his mother’s connections – he worked his socks off.
It’s difficult for newbies to walk straight into the starting XI at the star-studded Mamelodi Sundowns. But not Kekana as he embraced his move from SuperSport to Chloorkop last year.
His efforts in Sundown’s defense didn’t go unnoticed after helping the team to claim a domestic treble: a record fifth successive league title, the MTN8, and Nedbank Cup.
However, amid that euphoria, which included being nominated for the Defender of the Season award, there was no way that Kekana thought he’d be called up by Bafana for the qualifiers.
“It’s my first ever call-up. It also sort of hit me by surprise but I was quite happy to be called up. I’ve always wanted to represent my country and I’ve been afforded the chance,” Kekana explained.
To ensure that there’s a smooth start to his international career, Kekana is sharing a room with Downs teammate and the current Defender of Season Lyle Lakay while he’s in camp in Morocco.
However, Kekana knows that it will take more than sharing a room with Lakay for him to get a nod against the third-best team on the continent, who are favorites to top Group K in the qualifiers.
“Everyone has been raising their hand, so it’s going to be a difficult one to see who’s going to start. But it’s good to see that everyone is in good spirits and willing to represent the country,” Kekana said.
Asked whether he’s confident he’ll get a starting berth, Kekana said: “I’d like to think so. That’s what everyone wants- to start. But you have to prove yourself within the training sessions as well.”
A draw will be deemed as a positive result for Bafana against Morocco. But they can’t afford to slip up against Liberia if they are going to qualify for the finals in Ivory Coast next year.
There are only three teams in Group K, following the suspension of Zimbabwe by Fifa due to political interference in their administration. Only the winners and runners-up will qualify for Afcon.