Tiyani Mabunda picked up a Man of the Match award on Monday night following Mamelodi Sundowns’ goalless draw away to Orlando Pirates in the Absa Premiership and immediately dedicated it to Sinethemba Jantjie
News filtered through to the Downs camp just hours before their potential title decider that Jantjie, 30, had died on the same day in a horrific car crash in Bethlehem, where his team Free State Stars is based.
Mabunda was on loan at the same club in 2014 – the same year Jantjie got his topflight breakthrough having joined Ea Lla Koto from National First Division side Mbombela United.
“At first I thought it was one of those April Fool’s joke,” an emotional Mabunda told journalists. “I know what the players are going through right now because I was there when we lost my friend Richard Henyekane (another Stars player who perished in a car accident in 2015) in a similar tragedy. It was really painful, but not only for me. Jantjie had a good run at Free State Stars.”
He lamented the fact that the speedy winger will now miss an opportunity to take his career to even greater heights. Jantjie would have joined Bidvest Wits next season as a free agent.
“You could see that he was becoming a better player by the day. No wonder he had already signed for one of the teams that contend for the league. It shows that he was vital for Stars and it is sad to have lost one of our own,” said Mabunda.