Whether Bloemfontein Celtic win or lose in the Nedbank Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday, Phunya Sele Sele are still guaranteed a ticket to the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
The lucrative PSL knockout competition offers the champions a passport to the continental second-tier tournament, but, either way, Celtic will have to step in, as Sundowns have already booked their berth in the Champions League by finishing in the top two in the Absa Premiership.
The Brazilians will represent the country in the premier club competition alongside Kaizer Chiefs. Celtic and Sundowns – who are each celebrating their 50th anniversary – will face off in the Ke Yona Cup decider, which carries a R7 million purse.
The Free State powerhouse will be eager to break an eight-year silverware drought against the same opponent they upstaged in the 2012 Telkom Knockout (TKO) final.
The Brazilians, on the other hand, are gunning for a double knockout cup triumph, having already annexed this season’s TKO title in December.
Sundowns’ reserve team graduate, Keletso Makgalwa, has proved his class with some sterling performances of late.
In three appearances in the Nedbank Cup, the 23-year-old chipped in with two goals that, in no small measure, pushed the Brazilians to the final stage of a competition they last won five years ago.
The stocky striker owes his steady rise to the influence of Themba Zwane, who is, without doubt, a candidate for the PSL player of the season award.
After somewhat lukewarm performances since resumption of play in the bio-bubble, the 31-year-old seems to have found his golden touch, and his influence was written all over Sundowns’ final push for the league title.
Celtic have their own star players who are capable of causing yet another upset.
Key to Phunya Sele Sele’s aspirations will be their bustling striker, Victor Letsoalo, who’s often underlined his big-match temperament with decisive goals.
The 27-year-old is the tournament’s second leading scorer with three goals, one behind Terrence Dzvukamanja of Bidvest Wits, who were eliminated by Sundowns in the semifinals.
But the story of Celtic’s offensive game wouldn’t be complete without mentioning captain Ndumiso Mabena.
The veteran attacker missed the team’s final match on Saturday against Maritzburg United due to suspension, but the 33-year-old is expected back for the final alongside defenders Justice Chabalala and Mzwanele Mahashe, who were also suspended.