Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A NUMBER of Warriors are in shock after an international footballer they featured alongside, and also battled against in the South African Premiership, and AFCON qualifiers, collapsed on the pitch on Thursday and was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.
The 28-year-old, Papy Faty, was a Burundi international footballer and recently helped his East Afrucan country to qualify for their first AFCON finals.
He had shared the dressing room with many Zimbabweans during his time in Super Diski where he even played for Bidvest Wits before concerns over his heart condition led the parties to split.
He was now playing in Eswatini.
The first signs emerged when, twice, Faty lost consciousness while playing in the South African Premiership and he was ordered to undergo surgery but rejected that advice and claimed his condition was being well treated by some African herbs he had been taking.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of former Bidvest Wits player Papy Faty! Everyone at Bidvest Wits will forever remember his immense contribution to the club,’’ the team said in a statement.
“Our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Papy!’’
The South African Premiership also released a statement.
“We are saddened by the news of Papy Faty’s passing. Condolences to his family, fans and the football fraternity at large.’’
With no prospects of playing in the South African Premiership, because of his heart conditions, he crossed the border into Eswatini but, about 15 minutes into a league match on Thursday, he collapsed on the pitch, was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Rest In Peace Brother Papy Faty, you were a soldier,’’ said Zimbabwe international forward Cuthbert Malajila who plays for South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns.
Faty lasted featured in a match here seven years ago when he represented Burundi in a 2013 AFCON qualifier against the Warriors at the National Sports Stadium.
He had played in the reverse fixture in Bujumbura and helped his team beat the Warriors 2-1.
That Warriors team featured the likes of Tapuwa Kapini, Tapuwa Khumbuyani, Onismor Bhasera, Tinashe Nengomasha, Vusa Nyoni, Archford Gutu, Knowledge Musona, Musa Muguni and Terrence Mandaza and was under the guidance of Rahman Gumbo who is now the team’s assistant coach.
Musona scored Zimbabwe’s goal, which proved crucial after the Smiling Assassin scored again at the giant stadium to lead his team to a 1-0 win, and through to the next round on the away goals rule after the two legs ended 2-2 on aggregate.
Other players who featured in the second leg included Oscar Machapa, Carlington Nyadombo, Khama Billiat, Denver Mukamba, Rodwell Chinyengetere and Clive Kawinga.
Zimbabwe Newspapers correspondent in Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, Noel Munzabwa, said the player died from a suspected sudden cardiac arrest.
“Diagnosed with a heart defect and released by South Africa’s giants Bidvest Wits and advised against playing soccer, Faty suffered the attack shortly after the hour mark of action and was attended to by the two teams medical personnel before being ferried to hospital just less than a kilometre away from the stadium,’’ he said in a report.
“With no ambulance at the stadium, Faty was taken to the hospital in a white sedan but by the time he reached there, he had long lost his battle with the heart disease and was pronounced dead upon admission.
“Even more traumatic for the Piggs Peak ensemble is that this the second foreign player to die in their ranks in 10 years, though of an unrelated cause, after former Highlanders junior, Sifiso Nketa, suffocated to his death on the 28th of June 2003.’’
Faty joined Eswatini side Malanti Chiefs in the January transfer window.
Club co-director and Premier League of Eswatini board of governor, Victor Rodrigues, narrated the tragedy.
“After collapsing during the match, team medics tried to stabilise him but unfortunately he could not make it to the hospital for further attention.
“It is a sad day for the game, our club, our country, Burundi and globally,” said Rodrigu.
Three years ago, Faty said he would continue to play despite concerns over his health.
“The club asked me what I want and I said I would like to keep playing, but as far as they are concerned they cannot continue to play me in the same condition that I am in,” he told The Star newspaper of South Africa.
“I can’t stop playing football, I am still too young to stop playing, so if the club feels they cannot take that risk, I would rather go look for somewhere else to play.
“I’ve been told my situation is so bad, but when I go play for my national team I can go on for days without any problems. I don’t believe I have a heart condition, otherwise I would not last for more than 45 minutes on the treadmill, for instance. It could be something else, but not a heart condition.”
Faty’s sudden death come amid concerns over the fitness of Young Warrior, Obriel Chirinda, who plays for Chicken Inn in the domestic Premiership, after he recently collapsed twice while on the field of play.
Chirinda featured for the Young Warriors when they defeated Mozambique in an Africa Cup of Nations Under-23 qualifier at the National Sports Stadium last month to help them book a date against South Africa.
He was introduced as a second half substitute by coach Tonderai Ndiraya and took the game to the visitors with his direct running, winning the appreciation of the crowd in a match the Young Warriors failed to impose themselves.
Now, the Gamecocks, one of the teams tipped to do very well in the domestic Premiership race this season, are running several medical checks on Chirinda.
He appeared to lose consciousness in the league match against Dynamos at Barbourfields two weeks ago which his team won 2-0.
“Cardiac diseases are life threatening conditions that need to be checked and are common in people who do contact sports where athletes can accidentally receive an impact or shock on the chest (precordin) resulting in arrhythmia,’’ Chicken Inn team doctor, Willmore Kapuyanyika told our sister newspaper, B-Metro, this week.
“However, the preliminary tests that we have done so far show that he does not have visible cardiac underlying causes.
“We are still monitoring him as this does not happen on a regular basis. We are going to run more tests and we are very much concerned on his malaise (brief loss of consciousness).
“Chirinda is training with the rest of the squad.’’