Mamelodi Sundowns joint-head coach Rhulani Mokwena admits it will take a while for the squad to recover mentally from the untimely passing of Anele Ngcongca.
Ngcongca, 33, suffered fatal injuries in a horrific car crash in the early hours of Monday morning on the N2 in KwaZulu-Natal ahead of his expected unveiling at AmaZulu after they secured his services on loan from Sundowns.
Tributes poured in across the world as his legacy with Genk, where he spent nine years, was recognised by retiring his old No.19 shirt while former teammates Thibaut Courtois and Kevin De Bruyne led personal tributes.
And ahead of their DStv Premiership clash against Stellenbosch FC, Mokwena admits the Masadawana squad have been deeply affected by the tragic news.
"We've lost a brother as Steve Komphela eloquently put it when we returned, as a family and as an organisation, we are saddened by his passing," he said.
"The untimely death of Anele really caught us all by surprise. The players shared a blanket with Anele and when coach Steve put it like that it resonates deeper how important he was for the changing room."
Mokwena added: "He went beyond being a football player but he had a deeper role that he played in the squad and we're all saddened and in a moment where we really feel the loss.
"It will take a long time for us to recover the moment but as much as we have to mourn, we have to celebrate his life and achievements in South Africa, national team and in Belgium.
"You can see the response in Belgium and that really goes to show how much impact he had, if you see Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois also celebrating his life. A club like Genk retiring his jersey signifies his personality, how important he was and how many lives he touched."