BLOEMFONTEIN Celtic were given a huge wake-up call when they were walloped 4-1 by Absa Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in Tshwane at the weekend.
Phunya Sele Sele will be out to redeem themselves when they host SuperSport United in the final game of 2017 at the Dr Molemela Stadium tonight (7.30pm).
Celtic team manager and former star midfielder John Maduka said players were determined to bounce back. However, the former Malawi international expects a tough 90 minutes from United, who were beaten 3-1 away to Baroka FC on Sunday.
Said Maduka yesterday: “It will be like two wounded animals clashing with each other. United are a quality side with a good coach (Eric Tinkler). So we have prepared for a very difficult game.”
Maduka said they aim to end 2017 on a winning note: “We are at home and appreciate the passionate support we get. We want to give our loyal fans a Christmas present of three points and finish the year with 22 points.”
He heaped praise on new head coach Veselin Jelusic, who missed the Downs loss, but returned yesterday after a short refresher coaching course in his native Serbia. Jelusic will be back on the bench tonight.
Said Maduka: “He is a great person to work with. He is likea father figure to all of us. We got off to the best start we’ve had in years under him, even reaching the Telkom Knockout final, and we aim to finish in the top eight.”
But Maduka, who played 118 games for Celtic, said he was expecting a tough second round. He explained: “If you win a couple of games you move up a lot and you go down if you lose a few.
“The league is very competitive, with little separating the top teams from bottom ones this season.
“That is why it is so important to end the season on a high.”
Maduka realises Tinkler is also on a mission after Matsatsantsa a Pitori failed to win any of their last four league matches.
He said: “We expect United to come at us. They will not be easy opponents and, like us, will be out to redeem themselves. I reckon home ground advantage will give us an edge.”
Celtic players bound to trouble United’s shaky defence are Tshegofatso Mabaso, Jacky Motshegwa, Ndumiso Mabena and Victor Letsoalo.