Celtic seek to end cup drought

We are going as the underdogs, most of the people expect Pirates to beat us, so that gives us that advantage because the pressure is not on us, says Maduka.

Bloemfontein Celtic coach John Maduka has welcomed the ‘underdogs’ tag and says pressure is firmly on Orlando Pirates in the MTN8 final. Coach Maduka admits his side is under no illusions about what they are facing when they go up against the mighty Buccaneers in what promises to be a thrilling encounter.

The two sides have already met this season when Pirates marked their first win of the DStv Premiership campaign with a narrow 1-0 win over Siwelele courtesy of a Siphelele Ndlovu strike.

Pirates have enjoyed a fine start to the season under Josef Zinnbauer and overcoming them will be no easy feat according to Maduka.  

“Look, Pirates are a team that has been playing good football. I know they have played so many games unbeaten. Since we started this season, they haven’t lost any game, so that alone tells you that it’s not going to be an easy game,” Maduka told the media in a virtual press conference.

“We are playing against a team that is well organised in defence. They know exactly what they are doing offensively, going forward. So, we know exactly what we are facing and we have tried our best to make sure that we prepare well and we play the game according to our plan but at the same time we don’t put ourselves under pressure. We go there and give our best and to enjoy the game, which is the most important thing,” Maduka explained.

With one trophy having already slipped through their grasp against Mamelodi Sundowns at the tail-end of last season, Celtic will be hoping to make amends this time around and go all the way and win their first trophy since 2012.

“This is our second final in months, so we need to go and win this one, but we can only win if we apply ourselves in a very good manner. We give everything to the best of our ability and the results will follow. We know it is a very important game for us and it is going to be very difficult but like I said, with the squad that we have, we are capable of competing with anyone else and we are looking forward to the game,” noted Maduka.

Ndumiso Mabena who has been in fine form said he would like to help the Phunya Sele Sele make history by winning the cup final.

“We will go all out. We want to make history to win the final for Celtic.  We will do our best to bring the trophy to Bloemfontein,” said Mabena.

Mabena is a different player and carries the hopes of Celtic on his shoulders. All eyes will be on him to see if he can lead them to cup final triumph. The 1-0 defeat in the Nedbank Cup final to Sundowns is still fresh in their memory, but he says it has taught them to fight hard and do their best.

“It is a new season, and we expect to finish the game with celebrations and not tears again. We believe that we can pull off an upset,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, retired Bafana Bafana star Dane Klate has put his money on his former team Orlando Pirates to lift this year’s MTN8 Cup trophy. The last time Pirates had their hands on a trophy was the Nedbank Cup in 2014.

Klate was in the Pirates team that won it twice and believes his former team can once again lift the cup tomorrow.

“I would probably go for Pirates but I think Bloem Celtic have done well,” the 35 year-old Klate said.

“Both teams have done well to get to the final. Celtic beat Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarterfinals to get to the semifinals where they beat SuperSport United, the reigning champions. 

“Pirates beat Kaizer Chiefs to get to the final so I think both are deservedly in the final. It’s a difficult one to call but I would like Pirates to win it. I don’t think Pirates have won a trophy since I   left the team.

“They have got the capabilities and the players to deal with the pressures of a cup final,” added Klate.

Kick-off for the match is now scheduled for 18:00 as opposed to the previously stated time of 18:30.

By: Thapelo Molebatsi