Celtic qualify for MTN8 final

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Bloemfontein Celtic are slowly becoming cup specialists under John Maduka as they qualified for the MTN8 final on Saturday. Picture: Bloemfontein Celtic Twitter
Bloemfontein Celtic are slowly becoming cup specialists under John Maduka as they qualified for the MTN8 final on Saturday. Picture: Bloemfontein Celtic Twitter

SPORT


Bloemfontein Celtic are slowly becoming cup specialists under John Maduka as they qualified for the MTN8 final on Saturday.

The long-serving Maduka has reached two out of two cup final berths since his appointment a few months ago.

Celtic ended SuperSport United’s streak of three consecutive appearances in the final of the opening cup competition of the season. Matsatsantsa a Pitori were finalists in the tournament for three consecutive seasons.

Celtic will face the winner of the other semifinal between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Pirates have a big advantage after the 3-0 thrashing of their archrivals in the first leg.

Maduka has led the team to a second cup final in three months after they were the losing finalists in the Nedbank Cup in September. Maduka was promoted to head coach after Lehlohonolo Seema resigned back in July.

Siwelele’s fans would have been singing from their homes due to their team’s fine form.

READ: Pirates put Chiefs to the sword in first Soweto derby

The Free State club were not so long ago on the verge of being sold due to financial challenges. Now their good form has put them in a position to bag the R8 million winner-takes-all prize.

The decisive goal at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium on Saturday came in the 50th minute through Victor Letsoalo after some quick thinking from midfielder Given Mashikinya, who took a quick free-kick that released Letsoalo straight to goal.

United played a very physical game with the bulldozing Thamsanqa Gabuza leading the charge.

Celtic perhaps surprised United in the first leg with the valiant effort to draw 1-1 in Pretoria. In the second leg, United threw bodies forward in an attempt to trample the opposition’s back line.

Veteran striker Ndumiso Mabena led the team from the front with his deft touches and interplay with team-mates.

He has without doubt been the anchor of the team, and much of their play runs through him. Mabena was supported by Letsoalo and Siphelele Luthuli upfront.

The battle to control the tempo of the match was in the midfield, where Teboho Mokoena and Lucky Baloyi went head-to-head.

Meanwhile, Chiefs have a mountain to climb on Sunday in their clash against Pirates. Coach Gavin Hunt had a rude awakening last week as his hapless team was thumped by the Buccaneers.

Amakhosi simply do not have enough ammunition due to their ban on signing players. The team is full of dead wood that should have been disposed of years ago.

The Sea Robbers, on the other hand, will look to complete the job in honour of coach Josef Zinnbauer, who has returned to Germany to be with his son who is in hospital in a critical condition after a car crash.

Assistant coach Fadlu Davids will be in charge as they look to end their six-year trophy drought. The last time Pirates won a trophy was in 2014, when they clinched the Nedbank Cup.

Unlike their rivals, Pirates went on a shopping spree in the transfer window and the new players have already made an impact. Ironically, many of the top players who were under Hunt at Bidvest Wits are haunting him in this tie.


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Gomolemo Motshwane  

Sport journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gomolemo.motshwane@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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