‘We always remember Cele’

2017-01-25 06:01
PHOTO: andrew mcfadden/boogs photography Yesterday Maritzburg United players gather at the scene of the accident that claimed the life of Mondli Cele to pay their respects to their former team-mate.

PHOTO: andrew mcfadden/boogs photography Yesterday Maritzburg United players gather at the scene of the accident that claimed the life of Mondli Cele to pay their respects to their former team-mate.

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Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Mondli Cele’s death, but according to Maritzburg United captain Kurt Lentjies, the players honour the midfielder before every game.

The Team of Choice gathered at the scene of the accident that claimed the life of the Bafana Bafana call-up, and also that of young SABC journalist Delisile Ngwenya in Park Drive near the Pietermaritzburg Oval last year.

“It’s a sad moment for us, and it’s a year later. But we’re grateful to God for carrying us through this year. We just came here to pay respect to Mondli, and of course his family. And the prayer, of course, was always directed towards the family, for them to grow in strength,” Lentjies said.

“What we have to do is take this to the field. We remember Mondli before every game. Before the game, the guys mention that he’s there, no matter who we play, whether it’s Pirates, home or away, he’s always with us and we always remember him,” said the skipper.

“It’s also a celebration for us as well because we have to celebrate what Mondli has done for the club. It’s an important day for us, and one that will always be remembered in the club’s history,” added Lentjies.

Cele’s untimely death came at a time the club were trying to rebuild their season following a poor start that left them rooted to the foot of the table and fighting for survival. He was seen as being central to the club’s fight for survival. At the time, then Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba said he was close to calling Cele up for the national team.

United struggled to come to terms with the death of a crucial player, and their results suffered so much that it was thought it would take a miracle for them to survive relegation.

However, they were able to pull a rabbit out of the hat in the final two games, winning against Ajax Cape Town and fellow strugglers Jomo Cosmos to save their top flight status.

Cele’s death came months after that of Ajax Cape Town defender Cecil Lolo, who was killed in an accident in Khayelitsha in October 2015. Former Bafana Bafana and Golden Arrows striker Richard Henyekane was also killed in a car accident just less than a year before that.

The Witness quoted United chairperson Farook Kadodia appealing to players to have safety on their minds whenever they were on the road.

United, under new head coach Roger de Sa, are preparing themselves for the second half of the season, and their first assignment will be a trip to Limpopo to take on Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in three weeks. They follow that up with a game at home against Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs days after that.

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