Following the sudden death of Nigerian former football player and coach Stephen Keshi, Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘‘Shakes” Mashaba has joined South Africans in sending condolences to the Keshi family.
Coach Mashaba is currently making arrangements to bury his younger brother‚ Victor George Mashaba‚ and could not believe his ears when the news hit him that his coaching colleague Keshi had suddenly passed away from an apparent heart attack at an unripe age of 54.
“What is really happening in the world of coaching? Not long ago it was Ted Dumitru and now Keshi — two giants in the space of a week!” a stunned Mashaba lamented.
“This is not only a loss for the family and the Nigerian community but the entire African continent and world at large. Personally‚ I am gutted as it comes at a time when I am preparing to bury my younger brother‚ who died on Tuesday.”
Stephen Keshi continued to maintain a strong link with South Africa even after he lost to Mashaba while running for the Bafana coaching job some two years ago.
The president of South African Football Association (Safa) Danny Jordaan was speechless over the loss, wondering what exactly was happening to the world.
‘‘Keshi was not only a giant of African football but was a global football icon‚” Jordaan said.
“At a time when we are still reeling from the loss of Muhammad Ali and now this — one wonders what is happening to this world.
‘‘Only a few days ago we lost one of our own giants‚ Ted Dumitru‚ and hardly have tears dried up that we woke up to the shattering news of Keshi’s death.”
Safa Technical Director Neil Tovey‚ who played Keshi as opposing captains during their active years in their playing careers‚ said the Nigerian legend was a true gentleman.
“They say good people don’t live long and this is a prime example of the saying. I still can’t believe Keshi has left us‚” Tovey said.
“Here is one son of the soil I interacted with from the playing days till the time he passed away.
‘‘I said to myself on hearing the news ‘not again’ but the truth is we are never masters of our own destiny when it comes to death. May his soul rest in peace‚” said Tovey.
See Also: SA Veteran Coach Ted Dumitru Dies At 76
Stephen Keshi was also a fan of South African football club which was why he found it hard to believe that Bafana have not reclaimed their rightful place at the top of the continental food chain as South Africa is blessed with talented players‚ and endowed as one of the best when it comes to infrastructure in the world.
He led his boys to the Africa Cup of Nations Cup‚ becoming the second African to win the continental title as a player and coach after Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary.