By Nqobile Dludla and Lutho Mtongana
Bloemfontein Celtic walked away with the spoils at an inaugural pre-season event hosted by Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Celtic won the inaugural Charity Showdown at Bidvest Stadium following well fought battles over fellow premier league sides Bidvest Wits and AmaZulu. Mpumalanaga Black Aces also participated in the four-team tournament.
Celtic – the Phunya Sele Sele – beat out hosts Bidvest Wits 1-0 in the semi-finals and took the tournament with a 2-0 win in the final over Amazulu.
Not a tough nut to crack after all
The Clever Boys started off on the right foot, with newly-signed defenders, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Kees Kwakman pairing up to form a strong defence team alongside Siyabonga Nhlapo.
But this wall could not resist the pressure from Gabonamong Mogogi’s header received from Heinrich Issacs’ corner kick, earning Celtic a 1-0 lead.
Early into the first half, Sibusiso Vilakazi was denied a rebound free-kick by Celtic goal keeper, Patrick Tignyemb.
Celtic Joel Mogorosi proved to be a danger coming on strong in the second half, threatening to give Celtic two more goals, but Moeneeb Josephs denied the Celtic player’s attempts.
Despite their efforts, Wits failed to equalise, leaving the score at 1-0.
Celtic coach, Ernst Midlendorp was pleased to see his team advance to the final stage but said the performance “in certain departments definitely was not the standard you want to be competitive in, in the PSL.”
“The outcome was okay. We had a good defensive performance. We have worked on it in the past 3 weeks a little bit more but the movement combat, the build up, the right decision making, the final action, not positioning up and all the stuff you need to be dangerous in to counter your opponent, I think was very poor from our side,” said Midlendorp.
Conquering the Zulu warriors
True to Midlendorp’s assessment, the final clash with AmaZulu, also known as Usuthu, started off sluggish, with AmaZulu dominating the first half.
Michael Ntechane, 20, a Celtics fan, after the first half said, “They (Celtics) are under pressure and I feel they should improve in the second half if they want to win.”
Celtics came back strong in the second half where they managed to score two goals by Vuyani Ntanga and Gabadinho Mhango, giving Celtics the victory.
The two goals however, were not without struggle as Amazulu kept them on their toes with what was believed to be the “best defence” of the day.
AmaZulu booked their place in the final by beating Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-1 in the second semi-final.
The stadium was filled with Celtics supporters who sat through the cold and overcast day, sharing the victory with their team through music and dance, even after the game ended. The team itself was particularly pleased with their win over Bidvest Wits.
“Well, you know its football, you win or lose, we knew that they (Bidvest Wits) are competitive and they have been winning most of the games we played against them so we thought we should come and see what would happen and fortunately we were the ones who won today”, Celtics captain, Wandisile Letlabika said to Wits Vuvuzela.
Despite the knockout in the first semi-final on home soil, Bidvest Wits coach, Gavin Hunt said it was a good game.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score in early stages of the game and I’m sure we’ll be better as the season goes on,” said Hunt.
The inaugural Charity Showdown tournament was aimed at raising funds for The Lunchbox Fund through playing soccer while enjoying a fun filled family day with exciting activities such as face painting, sack racing, snake and ladders for children and live performances. The event raised close to R150 000 by the end of the day.
See more photos from the event on our Facebook page.