By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - Botswana football was left mourning after two football players lost their lives in separate roads accidents, in a space of 48 hours.
First Division player, Lovemore Murirwa, who played for top side, Township Rollers and the national team at the height of his career, died on Friday afternoon on his way to training.
The gifted 29-year-old attacker, who has played for other Premier League sides, Orapa United and ECCO City Greens, was on top of his game at Sua Flamingoes, a mining town side gunning for promotion to the top division.
He was voted the country’s premier knock-out competition, Mascom Top 8’s player of the year in 2014, when he led Rollers to the title.
“We have lost a versatile player of note,” mother body, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) said in a statement.
Murirwa was traveling with three of his teammates, with two, severely injured and their return to the pitch now in doubt.
Their vehicle, in which Murirwa was a driver, burst a tyre, a few kilometers before Sua, where the team is based, just outside the second city of Francistown.
The vehicle veered off the road, rolled several times, before landing on a tree. Images of the badly damaged car, went viral on social media.
Two players, Alfred Mopiki and Ogopotse Tshule were admitted at Francistown’s Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital’s intensive care unit.
Mopiki suffered head and chest injuries and a broken shoulder, while Tshule broke both legs.
In the early hours of Monday morning, before the football community could digest the Friday horror, another First Division player, Lesego Matoteng, also 29, died on the spot when his vehicle overturned, in Radisele, a tiny village in Botswana’s central district.
Matoteng played for top flight sides, Nico United, Orapa United and Sankoyo Bush Bucks before landing at current club, Morupule Wanderers, a mining town side.
Games involving the two sides have been postponed, to give the clubs time to mourn the two players.
The two deaths bring to nine, the number of Botswana footballers who died due to accidents this year.
Seven players perished in February when their mini buses overturned near Gumare, in the northwest, on their way to a football match in the government sponsored Constituency League.
Last year in separate incidents, two players, including prominent Township Rollers winger, Gofaone Tiro, collapsed and died during training, due to cardiac arrest.