Mamelodi Sundowns will continue to celebrate former Bafana Bafana defender Anele Ngcongca’s life in their next 15 matches.
Ngcongca died in a car crash on the N2 outside Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast on Monday.
He wore the jersey number 16 on his back during his highly successful stay at the club and Sundowns have decided to celebrate him with the same number matches, which started with their 3-0 DStv Premiership win over Stellenbosch FC at Loftus on Saturday.
The two sides started the tributes to Ngcongca by warming up with T-shirts bearing his name and image. The match was temporarily stopped in the 16th minute by referee Jelly Chavani to honour him.
“We are also going to dedicate the next 16 games to Anele, which started with the game (on Saturday) against Stellenbosch, to make sure that we live up to his attributes as a player,” said Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi.
“He had qualities of selflessness, humility and competitiveness because he never wanted to lose and he became very angry even when he lost in small sided games.
“He was a competitive and happy person who made the change room look better with his jokes, and was also a mentor to all the youngsters. We really believe that with all those attributes, he deserves to be celebrated because he is a legend in the country and he has played about 50 matches for Bafana Bafana.
“He has played so many matches, he has won three league championships with Sundowns and that is big according to our standards. We still believe that he could have given more to the game and this is what we have decided as a team.
“The management has been on top of things by making sure that we get everything that we requested. The president (Patrice Motsepe) has also been supportive because Anele was a big figure and a soldier who served Sundowns and the national team with distinction.”
Mngqithi also thanked Stellenbosch and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for agreeing to participate in the programme to celebrate Ngcongca’s life. “One must appreciate what Stellenbosch did because not many teams can support the initiative that we had of celebrating the life of Anele.
“They did that selflessly and without any complaints. Everybody from their team, to their coaching staff and players were together [wearing] the same T-shirts to celebrate Anele and that is a big thing. They could easily have said, our sponsors would not be happy with us not wearing our kit during warm-up and all that, one must appreciate their selflessness.
“Anele wore jersey number 16 and we wanted to make sure that we keep that in our minds and celebrate in the 16th minute of the game. We did that very well with the support of the match officials and the away team.”