Celtic aiming for Mangaung Cup hat-trick

2011-07-29 14:39

Defending champions Bloemfontein Celtic will go in search of a third successive title at the yearly Mangaung Cup in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The title holders will first have to overcome Moroka Swallows in the second semifinal, while Ajax Cape Town and newly promoted Black Leopards lock horns in the first semifinal earlier in the day.

The winners of the two fixtures meet in the final later in the afternoon.

Celtic, who finished fifth on the Absa Premiership table last season under rookie coach Clinton Larsen, are aiming for a confidence booster before the new campaign starts next week.

“Preparations have been going well for us ahead of the new season,” Larsen said today.

“Like the other three coaches, I’ll use the tournament to fine tune the side before the season starts. There are two players on trial and some youngsters that we will be looking to blood.”

Swallows survived a relegation test last season, and this time around, coach Gordon Igesund wants an improved all-round effort from the former giants and a more respectable finish on the table.

The Birds will look to parade new signings Mpho Maleka, Joseph Makhanya and Bongani Thwala in Bloemfontein.

“I think this tournament will be important for us as we need to test where we are in our preparations before the league starts, and we want a reasonable finish this time,” said Swallows captain Lefa Tsutsulupa.

“We have some new blood in our squad and they are shaping up well. After all the running, it’s now time to do some technical stuff as a team.”

Ajax have lost the services of coach Foppe de Haan, retired goalkeeper Hans Vonk and forward Thulani Serero to Ajax Amsterdam.

And while chief executive George Comitis continues to fight sharks who are hovering around some of his young talent, he remains hopeful of catching an even bigger fish in Bafana Bafana’s world class striker, Benni McCarthy.

McCarthy could be set for a PSL return after 13 illustrious years in Europe.

He has been training with the Urban Warriors to keep fit during pre-season.

“I’m hoping that Benni and his manager will give us first option if he decides to sign with a South African team,” Comitis said.

New Ajax coach Maarten Stekelenburg could opt to give keeper Sean Roberts some game time while Andre Petim recovers from an appendix operation.

For Leopards, surviving the season ahead is a top priority and they will want to do it with the same flair they displayed in their promotion play-off fixtures and their splendid Nedbank Cup run where they finished runners up to Pirates.

Coach Sunday Chidzambwa will hope that striker Rodney Ramkgalela displays his First Division scoring form and lives up to his promise against Premiership opponents. 

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