Free State gets a double derby dose

2013-03-10 10:00

Two derbies in two days at the same venue.

This is what’s on offer in the Nedbank Cup last 16 for the communities in and around Phuthaditjhaba next weekend.

The double derby dose also guarantees Free State at least two spots in the quarterfinals of the competition with its R7 million first prize.

The back-to-back derbies at Charles Mopeli Stadium next weekend means either Free State Stars, Bloemfontein Celtic, African Warriors or Maluti FET College will go into the last eight draw for the next round.

Stars will host Celtic on Saturday, while Warriors (National First Division, NFD) and Maluti (Vodacom League) will face off on Sunday.

Maluti are still basking in glory after eliminating Orlando Pirates in the first round to book a date with the NFD title-chasing Warriors.

Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene and his Celtic counterpart Patrick Tignyemb have been in the province long enough to recall some of their cross-town rivalry that spans two decades.

“Our derby is not as big as the one between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates but the atmosphere is always incredible at our games,” said Zambia’s No 1 Mweene, who joined Ea Lla in 2005.

“Of the many games I have played against Celtic, there’s one that stands out: when we beat them 5-1 on the last day of the 2009 season.

“That game demonstrated that there were no favours between the two sides, even in desperate times,” he said.

Celtic needed a win against Stars on that May afternoon to avoid the national relegation and promotion play-offs.

Despite the demolition, Phunya Sele Sele survived, finishing 14th, just above Thanda Royal Zulu on a better goal difference.

Another cracker, recalled Mweene, was their meeting at the Telkom Knockout semifinal last season.

“It was unfortunate that we lost but it was still a good display for the fans as they witnessed five goals on the day,” he said.

Mweene (28) conceded that he still gets nervous prior to the games against their archrivals.

“It’s natural that there would be tension – surely the guys who play in the Soweto derby feel the same.

“Celtic commands a bigger crowd wherever they play in the Free State but we’ll beat them on the pitch.”

Tignyemb, who is in his sixth season with the reigning Telkom Knockout champions, countered: “Stars have a bunch of hard workers and they always give us a tough time in QwaQwa.

“But we are inspired by the fact that we beat them away in the cup (Telkom, last season).”

Stars have not lost in nine league outings at Charles Mopeli and they beat Celtic 1-0 in their most recent clash when mid-fielder Luyolo Nomandela scored at the death.

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