BLOEMFONTEIN Celtic coach John Maduka says they are expecting the most difficult game when his charges tackle Baroka FC in the Nedbank Cup semi-final match at Orlando Stadium on Saturday (2pm).

Both teams will pave the way for Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits who will battle it out in the other Ke Yona last four match at the same venue on the same day (7pm).

Maduka stressed that his players could lack match fitness as they haven’t played a single match, let alone a friendly since the PSL season was halted in March due to Covid-19. 

The 49-year-old was elevated from the assistant role after coach Lehlohonolo Seema left the Free State based outfit to join Chippa United in July.  

Explained Maduka: “Our preparations have so far been good. But it’s not easy (to prepare), it has been difficult for everyone (all the clubs), we have the same challenge (lack of fitness).

When we started preparing the team we didn’t know when the league will start.

We didn’t know whether to push players or not and we kept training trying to adjust.

It has been difficult because we can’t even play friendlies due to Covid-19 to see whether players are 100 percent okay or not.” 

The former Siwelele midfielder also has a dilemma since he doesn’t know what Bakgaga are capable of this time because they also haven’t played in a long time due to the pandemic.

“It’s difficult to plan because we don’t know how they will come at us.

We watched their previous matches, but it’s more than three months since they played, so it’s tricky.

But we have a plan and we will play accordingly and at the end of the day it’s a cup game, the one we must win.

We need to be cautious (on approach) as we don’t know how long players will last (on the pitch).

But having five subs gives us a chance cause the game has to finish that day.” 

Siwelele will also miss their vocal fans who have always been like their 12th player on the pitch to help swing the game in their favour. 

“Unfortunately in situations like this we will play without our supporters who will watch on TV.

We have seen in Europe they also play without them and we will play as if they are there with us at the stadium.”