At face value, 10-time league champions Mamelodi Sundowns should have the upper hand in the Nedbank Cup final against Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
However, Celtic have an ace up their sleeve over the Brazilians that serves as a reminder that they can never be underestimated.
Celtic remain the team that handed Pitso Mosimane his biggest defeat as Sundowns coach – the 5-0 spanking in 2015.
Celtic also defeated Sundowns the last time they met in a final in 2012, in the Telkom Knockout (TKO).
Phunya Sele Sele head coach John Maduka was quietly confident this week that his team can upstage the freshly minted league champions.
“Of course, we are very hungry to win the final for ourselves and for the supporters. It is a different ball game [to the 2012 TKO final]. They have beaten us three times this season,” Maduka said.
He was referring to the two league defeats – both by 2-1 scorelines – as well as 3-1 in the MTN8 quarterfinals.
“We are aware of how they managed to beat us. Going into this one is different and we must just play according to our plan and try to win, just like we do in any other game. In football, you plan to win. But sometimes you get a different result. That is part of the game.”
The former Malawi and Celtic captain added that his team entered the PSL bio-bubble prepared to play in the final.
“Our plan was to play nine matches – that’s seven in the league and two in the Nedbank Cup. So‚ mentally already we prepared the players that we might be the first to get into the bubble and the last to get out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sundowns are chasing the treble after winning the league title and the Telkom Knockout this season.
Mosimane is looking to make it 11 titles under his belt since he took charge at the club in 2012.
On the Celtic clash, the former Bafana Bafana coach said: “You can never get anything easily from Celtic. They know how to put up a fight and can punish any team that doesn’t give them the respect they deserve.
“We will go out there and play the way we have been doing [this season]. You know I don’t like to change much. The players that have got us this far deserve to close the bubble for us.”
The winners of the Ke Yona Cup will pocket R7 million with the runners-up taking home R2.5 million.
The competition also comes with a golden ticket for the Nedbank Cup champions to enter next season’s CAF Confederation Cup.
In this case, Celtic automatically qualify for the continental second tier competition by virtue of Sundowns having earned entry into the premier CAF Champions League as South African league champions.