Celtic won the Telkom Knockout in controversial fashion the last time these two teams met in a domestic Cup final. The ball was judged to have crossed the line for the solitary winner, while replays showed otherwise. 24 hours later, Sundowns fired Johan Neeskens and hired a man named Pitso Mosimane. The rest is history.
3 – Sundowns are aiming to win a domestic treble of Telkom Knockout, League & Nedbank Cup for the first time in the PSL era. (They won a continental treble before).
Will there be goals?
Finals can be cagey, as teams often sit back instead of bringing the game to the opposition. Teams choose to wait for the opponent to make a mistake, or play on the counter attack. One mistake is enough to decide a final. Last season, the solitary goal was scored in the 93rd minute via a penalty, as TS Galaxy won the Cup and R7 million having managed one shot on target until then.
50% – Of the twelve Football Association Cup finals played under the Nedbank sponsorship (2008 onwards), half of them have seen just 1 goal or less after 90 minutes.
Obviously, the style of teams that are playing matters. Mosimane showed that shoeshine and piano can be temporarily ditched when deemed necessary. And successfully so. Downs “parked the bus” majestically against Chiefs last month to secure a 1-0 win that effectively swung the title race. It was an un-Sundowns like performance, as the Brazilians are mostly associated with flair. Today, the bus-parking performance is a distant memory & the title celebrations are what the fans will remember most.
That said, Celtic are no yawn-masters themselves and have been entertainers all season. Siwelele scored as many league goals as Sundowns in the league just ended (43), and were second only to Chiefs for goals scored. Indeed, the 1.43 goals per game that they averaged in the 2019-20 league season is the best ever for a Celtic season in PSL history. They were also one of only two sides that remained unbeaten in the bubble, and the manner in which they swept Chiefs aside would have sent warning bells sounding in Chloorkop.
13 – Celtic have scored 13 goals in both competitions in the bio-bubble, more than any other side except Sundowns (16).
“It will be a difficult game of course, they are a very difficult team that is enjoying themselves. They are free-spirited, they pass well. (Yoh) they can pass the ball and they have got nothing to lose and will give everything. If they can beat Chiefs, they can beat us also,” – Mosimane on Celtic earlier this week.
It’s a clash of the league’s second highest scorers and the three games in all competitions between the sides have produced 10 goals already this season. As such, we’re hoping for a lot of goals tonight. Yet, the same was said about Bayern Munich & PSG ahead of their UCL final, which finished 1-0.
Finals can be cagey.
By Opta Jabu
Pics courtesy of the PSL.