SAFA sends condolences after fatal crash


JOHANNESBURG (AP) -The president of the South African Football Association sent condolences Monday to the families of the four players who were killed in a car accident this weekend, while the next round of games in the second-tier National First Division were postponed as a mark of respect by organizers.

The accident Sunday was the second road tragedy in a month for South African football. National team assistant coach Thomas Madigage died in a crash in the same region in October.

SAFA's Kirsten Nematandani said the four latest deaths were "sad, painful and difficult for relatives, friends and the South African football fraternity."

It is little more than three weeks since Madigage died in the same northern province of Limpopo, about 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of Johannesburg, to again underline South Africa's desperately poor road-safety record.

"We just buried our assistant coach who died in similar circumstances, and for such a horrific accident to happen a few weeks later brings to the fore a lot of questions," Nematandani said. "We need to be careful on the roads because precious lives are being lost needlessly."

SAFA said the players from Limpopo's second-tier Polokwane City club were identified by police as 20-year-old Koketso Takalo, 21-year-old Robert Mphuti, 23-year-old Moeketsi Nthete, who was on loan from South Africa's Premier Soccer League champion Orlando Pirates, and 27-year-old Silvester Mpaketsane.

They died when the minibus carrying them and teammates back from a game collided with another vehicle and rolled into the path of a bus full of churchgoers near the city of Polokwane. Other players were admitted to a hospital.

Those injured players were visited on Monday by Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza.

"We as the football fraternity are in mourning," Khoza said.

This weekend's semifinals in the Telkom Knockout cup competition will also observe a moment's silence to honor the players and a memorial service will be held at Polokwane's Peter Mokaba Stadium, one of South Africa's 2010 World Cup venues.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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