Tributes continue to stream in from PSL clubs, the SA Football Association and local football fraternities over the tragic passing of Richards Bay player Siphamandla Mtolo.
In what has been a dark day for local soccer, the club confirmed via a statement that the 29-year-old defensive midfielder met his untimely death after he collapsed in training on Tuesday morning.
Mtolo’s death came a few days after he gave a spirited performance for his team in its 1-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in a DStv Premiership fixture at King Goodwill Zwelithini Stadium in Durban at the weekend.
The game on Saturday was his fourth straight league game in which he had featured the full 90 minutes, having not made regular appearances in the first round of the campaign.
Chiefs were among the many who conveyed condolences to the fallen hero, who joined Richards Bay from fellow KwaZulu-Natal side Uthongathi FC two years ago.
Wrote Kaizer Chiefs on Twitter:
Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved family and Richards Bay FC following the tragic passing of Siphamandla Mtolo. May his soul rest in peace.
While Richards Bay said they could not divulge further details around the events that led to the shock death, the club said Motolo’s “presence both on and off the pitch will be sorely missed”.
Read part of the statement:
It is with deep sadness that Richards Bay FC announce the untimely loss of one of our midfielders, Siphamandla ‘Spepe’ Mtolo. He collapsed this morning [Tuesday] during training. The club is not in a position to provide further information at this stage and asks that his family’s privacy be respected at this difficult time of bereavement. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Richards Bay FC are with his family, friends and loved ones.
Renown South African junior national teams scout Sinesipho Mali said: “My sincere condolences to the entire Richards Bay family and Mtolo family.
Heartbreaking loss of a very talented footballer, having profiled him deep before in the NFD, one of the players that caught my eye with his work ethic, technical quality and intelligence.
The PSL said a moment of silence would be observed in honour of Mtolo at this week’s Nedbank Cup and DStv Diski Challenge fixtures.
Safa also joined in the mourning, saying: “We as the South African Football Association would like to convey our sincerest condolences, deepest sympathy and heartfelt sorrow to his family, friends and the club during this difficult time.”
Mtolo will be remembered for captaining Richards Bay to their historic promotion.
Sadly, his passing comes at a time when the ‘Natal Rich Boyz’ are been going through a rough patch, despite a bright start on their debut season in the elite league.
Richards Bay, who are placed sixth on the premiership log, will face TS Galaxy in their next league fixture on March 19.