Ageing like fine wine, Bloemfontein Celtic captain Ndumiso Mabena, 33, is the true epitome of this adage.
The former Orlando Pirates striker seems to be getting better with age as he continues to display impressive performances.
Mabena is optimistic that Celtic will stick to their quick, enterprising, yet productive style of play when they tackle Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
In eight games since the resumption of football in the PSL Bio-Bubble, the Bloemfontein outfit is yet to taste defeat with three wins and five draws.
“We are a team that likes to play the ball where everyone always avails themselves on the field‚ and we have a high work rate,” said Mabena.
“I get comfortable in my role because of the pattern that we are using and there’s a lot of understanding between the players.
“The system that we are using comes from the training ground and there is a good understanding between the players because we know how the coaches want us to play,” he added.
“Personally‚ I know the system very well and most of us have been together for a while now‚ and that makes it easier for me to play where I am playing.”
Mabena has been ever-present for ‘Siwelele’ this season, having featured in 33 matches across all competitions with 11 goals and five assists to his name to ensure that the club reaches the final of the Nedbank Cup, secure a top-eight finish and qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup.
“I am fortunate to have played so many games for the team and I think the rest that we got because of Covid-19 helped somehow. I think it’s just hard work that pays off at the end of the day.
“Maybe we were lucky to get that break in the middle of the season because I think it gave us a chance to recover as a team so that we can come back strong.
“But credit must also go to the technical team, the physio and the coaches with the work that they’ve given us,” added the Celtic captain.
Mabena proved his credentials when he was in the colours of Pirates, winning back-to-back trebles – two MTN8 Cups, two Telkom Knockout trophies and two Premiership titles. He also added two more titles to his trophy collection as he clinched the Telkom Knockout and MTN8 at the now-defunct Platinum Stars.
Sundowns will be favourites on Saturday as they have already clinched two trophies this season, the league, and Telkom Knockout. Pitso Mosimane’s men are chasing a domestic treble.
“Everybody knows that they (Sundowns) are highly experienced because of their continuous participation in the CAF Champions League.
“They also have a good bunch of players which makes them a very good team. We all saw their experience in the way they managed their league games to eventually catch up with log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
“They did what they had to do, and they managed to win the league title. That is because of the vast experience they have‚ and they have gained in the Champions League,” concluded Mabena.
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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi