Celtic tiptoe around relegation

2016-03-16 06:00
UNDER PRESSURE: Serame Letsoaka, coach of Bloemfontein Celtic.

UNDER PRESSURE: Serame Letsoaka, coach of Bloemfontein Celtic.

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SERAME LETSOAKA, head coach of Bloemfontein Celtic, has admitted his charges could become embroiled in a relegation battle if they slip up in their forthcoming league fixtures.

He spoke at a post-match media conference after the Mangaung giants’ narrow 1-2 defeat against rival Free State Stars in the Free State derby played at the Dr R.T. Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Sunday (13/03).

This was Phunya Sele Sele’s fourth successive loss, which left them five points above the relegation zone. Celtic’s predicament has prompted grave concern of relegation.

Celtic, who last tasted a win when they narrowly beat Bidvest Wits by 2-1 on 31 January, are 12th on the log with 22 points after 22 games – desperate for five or six points to get out of the danger zone.

Already embroiled in the dreaded relegation battle are Maritzburg United (15 points) at the bottom, with Jomo Cosmos (17 points) and the University of Pretoria (17 points) second and third from the basement.

In the event of defeats in two matches for Celtic and wins for any of the three clubs below it, Phunya Sele Sele will be in the battle.

Letsoaka has downplayed the fact that relegation is looming, despite his team’s worrying position on the league table. He strongly emphasised that his charges would survive.

“We are in the danger zone, but relegation is not an option. We need to win and get three points to be in the clear,” said Letsoaka.

His team’s tough assignment to survive will see them facing the in-form and title-elect Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday (16/03).

“The last time Sundowns lost, I coached the opposition (Lamontville Golden Arrows), and this could repeat itself on Wednesday,” warned Letsoaka.

The fixture between Sundowns and Celtic kicks off at 19:30 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria.

Letsoaka pointed out that the loss to provincial rivals and his former team, Ea Lla Koto, had not dampened his warriors’ fighting spirit.

Giovanni Solinas, Stars coach, expressed his sympathy for Celtic.

“Celtic is a good team, and Serame is a real gentleman and coach. I wish him and his players the best in future games,” said Solinas.

“It’s sad to see them going through this rough patch, but that’s football. I’m sure they will come through it. I hope they will still be part of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) next season. The province needs Celtic to stay up. We need a top-flight Free State derby,” said the Italian-born mentor.

Solinas said they remained focused on the target to survive relegation, despite being in contention for a top-eight finish, and he hoped Phunya Sele Sele likewise survived the big drop.

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