Siwelele poised to upset Buccaneers

2010-03-11 10:30

Bloemfontein Celtic coach Owen da Gama is hoping to put the cherry

on top of a good season by winning the Telkom Knockout, but knows he faces a

tough hurdle in the first round against Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium

on Saturday night.

Kick-off is at 8.15pm.


Celtic finished sixth in the Absa Premiership after narrowly

avoiding relegation the previous season, and Da Gama deserves a pat on the back

for turning around Celtic’s fortunes, despite speculation that Gordon Igesund is

being lined up to replace him next season.


But Da Gama is focused on the job at hand. “We enjoyed a good

season so far but made mistakes from which we learnt. We are looking forward to

a good cup run.”


Da Gama believes if Celtic can beat Pirates it could propel them

into the final.


He has been down this road before. “When I coached Silver Stars

(now Platinum Stars) in 2006, we played Kaizer Chiefs in the first round and

then went on to win the cup.


“I strongly believe if we can beat Pirates, then the motivation

will be there for us to go all the way.”


Pirates will be weakened by having six players on duty with Bafana

Bafana in Brazil where national head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is holding a

four-week training camp.


But Da Gama is also minus six players, two with Bafana midfielders

Tlou Segolela and Thabo Nthethe – the injured Cecil Oerson and three suspended

players in defenders Michael Khaile, Johannes Motlhaping and Wellington

Sambu.


Good news is that experienced defender Mokete Tsotetsi, is back from

suspension.


Said Da Gama: “Having to make six changes could work for or against

either side. It will be the team that wants it most on the night.


“Having six players out means an opportunity to other players to

show me they deserve to be in the starting line-up.”


Da Gama added that motivation for some of the squad is the fact

contracts were up for grabs at the end of the season.


The former Bucs coach also knows Pirates have more depth than

Celtic, but he believes his side can upset Pirates in their own backyard.


“We beat Pirates 2-1 in the Nedbank Cup last season in

Potchefstroom and have a good away record this season. We are quietly

confident.”


The two sides met in the final league fixture in the Free State

capital last weekend in a clash that ended 1-1.


Da Gama is set to give teenage striker Bongani Ndulula another run

after he scored the equaliser last weekend against the Buccaneers.


One of the six changes Bucs coach Ruud Krol will have to make is in

goal by bringing in Senzo Meyiwa to replace Moeneeb Josephs who is in

Brazil.


Meyiwa has played three times this season and is raring to go, but

warned his players about a weakness he noticed creeping into the team. “We tend

to lose concentration late in matches.


“We need to focus for the entire game. I am looking forward to

playing and determined to give it my all. The coach has been brilliant this week

with the way he has motivated us.”


In Saturday’s other Knockout clash Golden Arrows host Platinum

Stars at the Chatsworth Stadium. Kick-off is at 3pm.


On Sunday, Premiership champions SuperSport United will be hoping

to end their two match losing streak when they play relegation haunted

Mpumalanga Black Aces at Witbank’s Puma Stadium.


United lost 3-0 away to AmaZulu in their last league match and

coach Gavin Hunt will want to put matters right against Aces who finished 15th

in the 16-team Premiership and are involved in the promotion/relegation

play-off.


Aces meet Nathi Lions in the first leg of the semi-final play-off

at home next Wednesday and that is expected to take priority.


In Sunday’s other clash Ajax Cape Town host Moroka Swallows at

Newlands.


Both kick-off at 3pm.
 

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