Following a short break due to the now concluded international break, Mamelodi Sundowns will return to action on Saturday evening in their Telkom Knockout opener.
Sundowns last lifted the coveted crown during the 2015/16 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season,and after failing to win the MTN8 and Caf Champions League Sundowns can be forgiven for being a little anxious to get their hands on some silverware.
However, it won’t be easy for the Tshwane giants as they come up against a Bloemfontein Celtic side looking to give themselves a second bite at the cherry after they fell at the last hurdle in last year’s tournament. But a lot has changed since then. Off the field, financial uncertainty has marred Celtic's progress, but with Steve Komphela having taken over at the helm there remains an air of optimism.
Not only has the former Kaizer Chiefs boss enjoyed a positive start to the season in terms of the league, but the most recent meeting between the two sides, which was only weeks ago, saw Phunya Sele Sele hold Sundowns to a goalless draw.
Sundowns though, may be keen to make a statement going into the game as their coach will hope to get their season back on track as their last two games have ended in draws.
|Game||Sundowns v Bloemfontein Celtic|
|Date||Saturday, October 20|
|Time||18:00 pm SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Live Match Centre||TV Channel|
Squads & Team News
|Attackers||Sibusiso Vilakazi (Injured)|
Mosimane’s first order of business as he returns to the hot seat is to identify a replacement for Sibusiso Vilakazi, who picked up an injury on international duty and is set to miss out on at least six months of football.
This could see Phakamani Mahlambi or Themba Zwane, who scored the winning goal in the Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Legacy Cup recently, drafted back into the line-up after he was benched for the Bidvest Wits game. Meanwhile, Thapelo Morena, who also needed to be withdrawn from the Bafana Bafana squad prior to the clash against Seychelles, could also make a return as he is back in training.
Sundowns' assistant has hinted in the build up to the game that they may need to rest some of their international players, who were not part of the club’s preparations for the game due to their participation with their respective nations.
“The fact that we’ve not had our internationals for this long, it obviously does have a negative effect on the team considering that we are preparing a team that is most likely not going to start the match, I’m not saying that everyone isn’t going to play but when you’ve got five of your key players out on national duty, then obviously you cannot just throw them away and continue,” Mngqithi told the media.
On the other hand, Celtic are without a win in their last three games and were also convincingly beaten by Kaizer Chiefs in the Macufe Cup last weekend. This would surely have dented their confidence a little and Komphela may look to switch things around.
In the league Celtic have conceded just five goals in eight games, and after the departure of Alfred Ndengane, Komphela would have used the break wisely to identify Lorenzo Gordinho’s ideal partner.
Two names that are likely to be the first on the teamsheet is Tshegofatso Mabaso. The forward is currently the club’s top scorer in the PSL, and his attacking prowess along with the experienced Ndumiso Mabena could be vital in overcoming Sundowns.
This will be the 34th meeting between the two sides in all competitions, and while over the years Sundowns have dominated the fixture, winning 19 games, Celtic will hope to come up with an upset.
The last time Celtic were victorious was in 2016, which makes the matchup an interesting prospect.
Nevertheless, both Celtic and Sundowns have won the trophy once and on Saturday at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, both sides will be eager to give themselves another chance at gold.