Da Gama: ‘This time it will be different’

2010-04-13 12:35

Bloemfontein Celtic coach Owen da Gama has a hunch that history

will repeat itself when he leads Phunya Sele Sele against Orlando Pirates in the

opening round of the Nedbank Cup at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night

(kick-off is at 7.30pm).

Celtic stopped Bucs in their tracks in last season´s competition

against all odds. The Buccaneers got revenge by defeating Celtic 1-0 last month

in the Telkom Knockout at the same venue.

But stressed Da Gama said: “We are much stronger and far better

prepared this time than we were in the Knockout. I had to play a makeshift

defence in the Knockout and we lost 1-0. This time it will be different.”

New tricks up his sleeve

Da Gama has two big aces up his sleeve in the form of two Pirates

“rejects“, midfielder Tlou Segolela and striker Excellent Walaza. Both have

blossomed at Celtic after struggling to get regular game time at Bucs. They are

still on loan, but Da Gama would be keen to make their move permanent.

“Segolela has adapted and settled in at Celtic and his style is

tailor made for Celtic,” said Da Gama.

So well has Segolela shaped at Celtic that he has been earmarked as

a future Bafana Bafana star after attending the month-long Bafana training camp

in Brazil.

Da Gama reckons Segolela’s pace will torment the usually tight Bucs

defence while Walaza, if he starts, will have a point to prove to Pirates.

Upset?

Da Gama also believes the Pirates defence and their depth of

players is their strength, but the fact that Lucas Thwala is away in Germany

with Bafana and Rooi Mahamutsa is suspended, could upset the rhythm of the

defence.

Right back Mahamutsa was sent off in the Knockout semi-final

against Kaizer Chiefs in Durban and is suspended for the next two matches.

But while Segolela and Walaza could be pivotal to Da Gama, he has

talented midfielder Mark Mayambela back from injury. Add the scoring power of

Prince Olomu and Moses Spandeel, and the Pirates defence will have their work

cut out.

Bucs star winger Dikgang Mabalane admitted their weak link is their

lack of goals this season. Bucs scored a mere 26 and conceded 18 in 30 league

matches this term.

“I am not criticising the strikers as it is the duty of all players

– myself included – to score goals. But while we have been solid at the back, we

have struggled to find the back of the net this season.”

Mabalane stressed that after the disappointment of losing to arch

rivals Chiefs they are determined not to finish their season on Wednesday.

With the league season completed in order for Parreria to jet all

over the world preparing Bafana for the World Cup, all that remains is this

competition and for the loser it will be a long wait until August when the new

season kicks off.

Mabalane said: “The last thing we want is to find ourselves with no

more games to play. We all know what is at stake that this is our last chance to

salvage something from our season and we aim to make the most of it.”

In other cup-ties on Wednesday Platinum Stars play their lower

league North West neighbours ALS Puk Tawana at the Rand Stadium, while Thanda

Royal Zulu host Peace Lovers at the Chatsworth Stadium.

All matches kick-off at 7.30pm.


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