Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba has paid tribute to defender Eric Mathoho for putting the country ahead of everything else.

The towering defender only leant when he had left the country for Burkina Faso that his younger brother had passed away on Monday, 3 October 2016.

But he decided to remain in camp for the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso on Saturday, 8 October at Ouagadougou’s Municipal Stadium. That match kicks off at 20h00 SA time.

“I want to pay tribute to this loyal servant of the country. We had asked him to be excused if he needed to attend to the bereavement of his brother but he insisted he wanted to help the country do well in the World Cup qualifiers,” said Mashaba.

“Now that is what we call selfless patriotism, this is someone who is prepared to die for the country and on behalf of the entire Bafana Bafana technical team; I was to thank Tower from the bottom of my heart.”

Mathoho’s brother is scheduled to be buried next weekend but Mashaba said such sacrifices are rare to come by these days.