Cape Town - South African Football Association (SAFA) president Dr Danny Jordaan, Technical Director Neil Tovey and Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba have been left devastated by the untimely death of former Super Eagles of Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi.
One of African football’s best known individuals, Keshi suffered from a heart attack in the early hours on Wednesday morning.
"Words cannot describe this shocking loss. Keshi was not only a giant of African football but was a global football icon," said a sombre SAFA president on the official SAFA website.
"At a time when we are still reeling from the loss of Muhammad Ali and now this; one wonders what is happening to this world. Only a few days ago, we lost one of our own giants, Ted Dumitru and hardly have tears dried up that we woke up to the shattering news of Keshi's death."
Jordaan said by virtue of SAFA's close links with the Nigerian Football Federation, his association with Keshi were equally strong and intimate.
"At 54, Keshi was one of the bright young coaches coming out of this continent and having been a captain and solid player during his playing days, you can't find a better individual whose life was wholly dedicated to the game of football.
"He recently lost his wife and now this. We wish that the family left behind remains strong in these difficult times."
Mashaba, who is mourning his young brother Victor George Mashaba passing on Tuesday, a day after he returned from Gambia said he was at a loss to comprehend Keshi's sudden death.
"What is really happening in the world of coaching? Not long ago it was Ted Dumitru and now Keshi; two giants in a space of a week!" Mashaba said
"Africa had lost one of its greatest prospects in the coaching world.
"This is not only a loss for the family, the Nigerian community but the entire African continent and world at large.
"Personally, I am gutted as it comes at a time I am preparing to bury my young brother who died on Tuesday," said Mashaba.
Tovey, who played against Keshi as opposing captains said apart from being a football 'animal', Keshi was a true gentleman of the game.
"They say good people don't live long and this is a prime example of the saying. I still can't believe Keshi has left us.
"Here is one son of the soil I interacted with from the playing days till the time he passed away.
"I said to myself on hearing the news 'not again' but the truth is we are never masters of our own destiny when it comes to death. May his soul rest in peace," said Tovey.
A former captain of the Nigeria national team, Keshi was one of only two men to win the Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach. He also managed Togo and Mali, and his playing career included a spell for Belgian club side Anderlecht.
Keshi was part of the Super Eagles team that won the Nations Cup in 1994 and narrowly missed out on a World Cup quarter-final place the same year. He coached the national side over three spells, leading Nigeria to the 2013 Nations Cup title in South Africa and the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.