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banner Saturday, 2 March, 2002, 14:54 GMT
Congo Kinshasa mourns Mayele
Jason Mayele pictured here in action with his old club Cagliari
The late Congolese international Jason Mayele
The death in Italy of one of Congo's brightest stars, Jason Mayele, has shocked Kinshasa's football authorities and fans alike.

"Its a hard blow for all of us," Sports Minister Timothee Moleka told BBC Sport Online, "the Congolese sporting world is in mourning."

"It's so sad, Mayele was the great hope of Congolese football," explained Hubert Kamanga, an office administrator.

"Everyone was counting on him."

Kinshasa's football teams have been asked to hold a minute's silence before kick-off in the weekend's games.

Tragedy strikes

The 26-year old midfielder, who played for Serie A team Chievo, was on his way to catch the team's bus for an away fixture against Parma, when his car collided with one carrying two passengers.

It's a shock, an appalling tragedy
Journalist Crispin Selemani

The Italian emergency service flew him by helicopter to hospital in nearby Verona, but Mayele died soon afterwards of his injuries.

A woman in the second car was also killed.

News has been quick to reach the Democratic Republic of Congo, where people remember Mayele for being one of their best players at the African Nations Cup in Mali.

"It's a shock, an appalling tragedy," said journalist Crispin Selemani. "The Simbas really relied on him."

Congo Kinshasa's captain Shabani Nonda
Captain Shabani Nonda

Alongside AS Monaco's Shabani Nonda and Newcastle United's Lomana Tresor Lua Lua, Jason Mayele showed that when they wanted to, the Simbas could match any team in Africa.

The three foreign-based stars combined brilliantly in the 3-1 destruction of Ivory Coast, which guaranteed Congo's place in the Quarter Finals.

Controversy in Mali

It turned out to be Mayele's last game in the national colours.

He was controversially left out of the next match, in which the Simbas were beaten by Senegal.

Coach Louis Watunda said Mayele had broken the team's curfew and been seen in a night club.

Mayele denied this, and told his fans in Kinshasa that he would return home soon to give his side of the story.

"We will now never know what happened," said Hubert Kamanga.

See also:

02 Mar 02 |  Africa
Mayele dies in car crash
17 Oct 01 |  Africa
DRC go for foreign stars
23 Jan 02 |  Cup of Nations
Nonda packs his bags
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