Malawi national football team legend, Kinnah Phiri, has expressed profound sadness at the passing on of Free State Stars owner, Mike Mokoena.
Phiri said South African football had lost an excellent administrator who was very passionate about football.
Mokoena passed away on Wednesday after succumbing to cancer and the official date for his memorial is yet to be confirmed by his family, but indications are that it could be this Friday.
Phiri said he had sent a condolence message to the bereaved family and the South African football fraternity through Mokoena’s last born son, Khotso.
“Mokoena was like a father to me. He first employed me in 2005 when his team was battling relegation. I did my best and took it out of the drop. That is the time we became the best of friends.
“Unfortunately, I had to leave the team when I was offered the national team coaching job. But I went back when I was relieved of my duties with the Flames and I remember him telling me that he wanted to have an all-Malawian coaching panel. That is when I invited late McHodges Chunga to join me,” he said.
Phiri said he would have gone to attend the funeral in South Africa had it not been for the travel restrictions due to Covid-19.
“He is a man that I will miss greatly. I would have loved to go and bid farewell to him but I can’t because of Covid-19. Death has robbed us of one of the greatest sons of football,” he said.
Meanwhile, kickoff.com has reported that Mokoena could be given a provincial official funeral.
The online publication quoted family spokesperson, Sophie Mokoena, as saying they are still waiting on the Free State Government’s request to State President Cyril Ramaphosa to grant the deceased a provincial official funeral.
“We are still waiting for the Free State Government to finalise the arrangement in terms of their request to President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a provincial official funeral. But the family is looking tentatively at Friday [for the date],” Mokoena said.
Mokoena wa s one of National Soccer League’s founders and has been praised for his role in empowering the Free State province youth.
He was affect ionately known as ‘Bar Mike’ by a number of Premier Soccer League players who he gave first professional or top-flight contracts such as Thabo Matlaba, Edward Manqele and Mpho Makola.