Al Ahly coach Pitso Mosimane has rued the loss of former Mamelodi Sundowns defender Anele Ngcongca, whom he feels would not have been in Durban if he were still his coach.
Ngcongca's tragic passing in a car accident in Durban last week has hit the football fraternity where it hurts, and several figures have paid tribute to the former right-back.
However, it is Mosimane who feels the 33-year-old's untimely death the most as he revealed the special bond they shared – one the coach says would never have seen the player go on loan to AmaZulu in the first place.
"He used to be a big part of my dressing room, with Wayne Arendse, 'Shuga' Mabunda, Hlompho [Kekana], Denis Onyango – the big boys ran my dressing room, they kept it quiet, and he was part of that," revealed 'Jingles' from Cairo, during a SAFJA online press conference.
"To lose him like that, a young guy... ja, it's very sad for me. He was in KZN, I don't think he would have been playing for AmaZulu if I was Sundowns' coach."
Mosimane further recalled how he roped Ngcongca into the Bafana Bafana setup prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and did the same thing to get him back to South Africa to join Sundowns in 2016.
"What a sad case. You know, I convinced Anele to come back to South Africa, because he was going through injuries, he was in France and not playing," he added.
Scroll through the gallery to view Anele Ngcongca's career highlights
"I would check him on InStat, I could check the games he was playing and I said, 'No, Anele is still good.' I checked Anele in Belgium, during the World Cup [preparations], I used to travel and speak to [Carlos] Parreira to say, 'Hey, this boy will do well in the WC.'
"It's big history with Anele, and we played him against France – he was unbelievable against [Franck] Ribery, I will never regret that I had that relationship with Anele.
"He never played premier league in South Africa, and I went to Belgium to fetch him and bring him to play for South Africa, and I brought him to play for Mamelodi Sundowns.
"When he came, in the first week he got injured again – I think you remember, and he was out for about four to five months. I was patient with him and what a player, what an experienced player.
"We used him in the CAF Champions League in big games, instead of Thapelo Morena, at right-back. Local games, where we attack a lot, it was Morena; when we want to wrap up the game quickly, it was Morena. If we play Wydad, Al Ahly, or the big teams, it was Anele.
"He coached Thapelo, he told Thapelo, 'This is what you do at right-back; this is how you play right-back.' Not, 'You are my competitor.' He was those guys who say, 'I need to leave the jersey in the right place.'"