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banner Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 15:10 GMT 16:10 UK
Bafana's Motaung dies
Sizwe Motaung
Motaung had been battling a mystery illness
The former South African international defender Sizwe Motaung has died from an unknown illness at the age of just 31.

Motaung had been battling the illness for over two months and died on Thursday morning at his home in Newcastle in the KawZulu-Natal province.

The former Jomo Cosmos player's condition made headlines two months ago when Cosmos owner Jomo Sono organised a benefit game to raise funds for his medical bills.

Reports have suggested that the former Tenerife star may have been suffering from an Aids-related illness but his family have always dismissed the suggestion.

It is a great loss to South African football.
  Safa president Molefi Oliphant
The defender, who was part of the Bafana squad that won the African Cup of Nations in 1996, was discharged from Legae Clinic in Mabopane, Pretoria, on Monday after his father had demanded his release.

The man who discovered Motaung, Cosmos owner Jomo Sono said: "It's a sad loss because he was not only a player to me but also a friend.

"I am still trying to come to terms with it and I do not want to dwell on the other issues. Maybe after a day or two I will be able to talk," he added.

Motaung was a former Bafana Bafana vice-captain. He joined Jomo Cosmos in 1991 from KwaZulu-Natal side Leeds United.

Overseas success

He was then part of the Bafana team that played Cameroon in South Africa's first international match after isolation in 1992.

After Bafana's Cup of Nation's success Motaung went on to ply his trade overseas. He played for Tenerife in Spain and also St Gallen in Switzerland.

After a two-year spell abroad, he joined Kaizer Chiefs and later Orlando Pirates.

South Africa Football Association (Safa) president Molefi Oliphant has also extended his condolences to Motaung's family.

Oliphant said: "It is a great loss to South African football. Sizwe was among the first players to represent the country when we were re-admitted to the international scene in 1992. He also helped us to qualify for our first World Cup."

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