All eyes on Free State derby

2008-12-19 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Bloemfontein Celtic face what coach Mich D’Avray termed a “cup final” when his struggling side meet neighbours Free State Stars in what promises to be a no holds barred Absa Premiership derby at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium tomorrow.

Phunya Sele-Sele come off a 3-0 beating dished out to them by Orlando Pirates at the Johannesburg Stadium on Wednesday and D’Avray is motivating his players to come out fighting.

“No question, this is our cup final. Stars are on fire after winning their last two games so we know we will be up against it,” said the former Ipswich Town and England under-21 striker.

D’Avray said that Celtic had two choices.

“We can start feeling sorry for ourselves and quit or we can come out fighting.”

But D’Avray said a defensive blunder from Ugandan international defender Timothy Batabaire led to Bucs opening goal and a goalkeeping howler from Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb led to Pirates third goal.

D’Avray is happy with striker Petrus Mahlatsi who returned last week after an eight week absence through injury and veteran former Bafana Bafana star Shaun Bartlett is getting fitter with each match.

“Once Bartlett and Mahlatsi are fully fit we will be back in serious business. But in the meantime, I know we face the Stars at a time when they are starting to hit form so this is going to be a nail biting derby.”

Stars showed that their early season slump appears to be over when they powered past Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 in QwaQwa on Wednesday and on current form they must start as favourites to add more agony to their neighbours.

Pirates travel to the Princess Magogo Stadium in Kwa Mashu to meet another rejuvenated side AmaZulu on Sunday.

Bucs are hit with injuries and coach Ruud Krol said: “I will see who is fit to play. There are so many injuries but it was an important win over Celtic after we lost to Ajax in last weekend’s Telkom Knockout. The players showed character to bounce back with an important win.”

Midfielder Teko Modise is out according to Krol. Right wing Dikgang Mabalane is suspended, while left wing Bennett Chenene, who scored the opening goal, and midfield anchor Lebogang Mothibantwa are both doubtful after picking up injuries against Celtic.

Tomorrow’s other fixture is a Johannesburg derby of sorts which will be played at the Germiston Stadium where Swallows host Wits. The Students lost 2-0 at home to Golden Arrows in their Wednesday fixture and with both teams desperate to end the year on a winning note, a closely fought 90 minutes is on the cards. — Sapa.

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