Despite the well documented off the field drama and financial problems, Bloemfontein Celtic punched above their weight in the 2019-20 Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaign.
‘Siwelele’ secured a top-eight finish in the Absa Premiership at the expense of the more financially stable clubs and qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup for the first time in their history by virtue of booking a Nedbank Cup final berth – as Mamelodi Sundowns have already sealed a spot in the Champions League by finishing in the top two in the league.
It was a season characterised by off-field issues for the Bloemfontein based outfit, including multiple reports of non-payment of salaries and speculation of a takeover. But the players continued to shine on the field of play.
The John Maduka effect
The Malawian coach was appointed Phunya Sele Sele’s new mentor after the shock exit of Lehlohonolo Seema, who joined Chippa United.
Under the guidance of Maduka, Celtic continued to play attacking, enterprising brand of football as the Bloemfontein outfit concluded the season unbeaten in the PSL Bio-Bubble.
Maduka guided Celtic to three wins and five draws in all competitions since he took over the reins with Celtic tightening up their defense in the bubble as they only conceded six goals and scored 13 in the progress.
Having succeeded in striking a successful balance between defensive solidity and attacking adventure, Maduka’s side with captain Ndumiso Mabena, Motebang Sera, Victor Letsoalo, Siphelele Luthuli, Menzi Masuku, Mzwanele Mahashe, Tebogo Potsane, Given Mashikinya, Lucky Baloyi, Lantshene Phalane and Sifiso Ngobeni all outstanding – proved to be a good side.
As the captain and tactical attack genius, Mabena led from the front and allowed his fellow players in Letsoalo (6), Sera (7) and Mzwanele (4) to flourish in the scoring department.
Masuku and Potsane also played their part in providing exceptional service inside the box. Masuku provided six assists and netted four goals and Potsane has five assists to his name with midfield hardman, Baloyi, forming a good relationship with Phalane.
As a result of the deadly attack led by Mabena, Celtic managed to record their highest ever tally of goals in the 30-game PSL era (43).
Only ‘The Glamour Boys’ (48) scored more goals than ‘Siwelele’ in the league.
With every superb team performance, there were one or two individuals at the centre of the event for Celtic throughout the 2019/20 season.
A few weeks ago, the FARPost Investigative Unit established that the current Celtic side has no Match Analysts. Senior players at the club took the match analysis responsibility upon themselves.
On the eve of their encounter against Chiefs, Celtic stars designed a comprehensive match analysis plan and shared their observations with the technical team.
A unique example of a collaboration of the players and the technical team which eventually led the team to a well-deserved 3-1 win over ‘Amakhosi’.
Celtic will be hoping to cap the season off by winning the Nedbank Cup as are set to meet Sundowns in the final on Saturday.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi