Show no fear, Maduka urges his charges

Bloemfontein Celtic will welcome captain Ndumiso Mabena back to their squad for the Nedbank Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday
INFLUENTIAL PLAYER: Bloemfontein Celtic will welcome captain Ndumiso Mabena back to their squad for the Nedbank Cup final against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday

Bloemfontein Celtic coach John Maduka has urged his charges to show no fear when they take on Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup soccer final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

Celtic take on highly fancied Sundowns only a week after Downs clinched the league title in dramatic fashion from under the nose of Kaizer Chiefs.

Sundowns are chasing a rare treble, having  also won the Telkom Knockout.

“For those playing in a cup final for the first time‚ it’s a motivation on its own to be in a cup final‚” Maduka said.

“They must be happy and excited at this opportunity, but we will make sure that they don’t put themselves under unnecessary pressure.

“We must also make sure that they don’t get too excited because if you are too excited you end up not doing the right things. So‚ we are trying to tell them that it’s just another game and the only difference is that it’s a cup final.

“We know that if you are a footballer‚ there will always be tension before the match but after a few touches of the ball you become OK.

“So‚ we have told the players not to have fear‚ we have asked them not to play the game before Saturday and they must focus on the preparations so that they are ready for the match.”

Celtic and Sundowns have stayed in the bio-bubble the longest as they restarted the season with Nedbank Cup semifinal wins over Baroka FC and Bidvest Wits respectively on August 8.

“Our plan was to play nine matches and that’s seven in the league and two in the Nedbank Cup,” Maduka said.

“So‚ mentally already we prepared the players that we might be the first to get into the bubble and the last to get out.

“It is happening the way we planned it and mentally we did prepare the players before we left Bloemfontein that they may stay in the bubble for a long time.

“During our time in the bubble‚ we have made sure that we take one game at a time and we have been working as a team.

“We have worked on mental strength and that has proved to be good for us and it helped us to manage to finish in the top eight.”

Maduka also welcomed back influential captain and attacker Ndumiso Mabena and key defenders Justice Chabalala and Mzwanele Mahashe from suspension.

“We are happy that Mabena‚ who is the captain of our team‚ and influential defenders Justice Chabalala and Mahashe are back from suspension and they are available for selection because they are very important.”

Even if they lose, Celtic have qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup because Sundowns have booked their place in the Champions League by winning the league.

Maduka is looking forward to continental football.

“We are happy that we have qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup, where we will be representing SA. It is a good opportunity for the players and the club to be exposed at that level on the continent.

“When it comes to the financial stuff‚ the management is aware of the situation and they have to dig deep to make sure that everything goes according to plan.”


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