Celtic into TKO final
Bloemfontein Celtic booked a place in the final of the Telkom Knockout with a dramatic 3-2 victory over derby rivals Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In a five-goal thriller that went to extra time, Phunya Sele Sele were twice pegged back by Ea Lla Koto’s Togolese attacker Dove Wome before netting the decisive goal through Botswana winger Joel Mogorosi.
Celtic should have opened the scoring as early as the third minute when Lyle Lakay whipped in a great cross from a free kick that found the head of Thabo Nthethe, but the Bafana Bafana defender put his effort wide of goal.
Two minutes later Stars striker Moeketsi Mvula tested goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb with a well-struck drive from a tight angle. It was to be the first of several good saves from the Cameroonian between the away team’s posts.
Ea Lla Koto were mere inches away from a goal in the eighth minute when Dove Wome fired a free kick into the danger area that was touched on by Sadate Ouro-Akoriko, with the ball striking the upright.
Stars played with a strong breeze at their back in the first half and made good use of it to stretch Celtic’s defence, while also never being shy of shooting from long range, but they were unable to get the better of Tignyemb.
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Phunya Sele Sele threatened only sporadically, but on 28 minutes they should have scored when a clever reverse pass from Lennox Bacela put Lakay through on goal, but the winger stabbed his shot wide of the target with Kennedy Mweene coming quickly off his line.
The second half saw Celtic take advantage of having the wind behind them, as Letladi Madubanya broke the deadlock on 52 minutes. The midfielder picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park and surged forward almost unchallenged before stabbing a shot beyond Mweene.
It took Stars just under 20 minutes to fight back and level the game at 1-1. Wome’s long-range grass-cutter was fumbled by Tignyemb, the keeper did just enough to deny Mvula from the loose ball, but he was then powerless to stop Wome tucking it home at the second attempt.
Celtic reclaimed the lead with just under 10 minutes of regulation time to play. Substitutes Joel Mogorosi and Lerato Manzini combined, with the former providing a great pull-back from the by-line that was swept home, with the aid of a deflection, by the latter.
Yet the visitors’ lead lasted just three minutes, as Wome fired home from a free kick in the 84th minute to make it 2-2. Tignyemb was once again at fault, positioning himself poorly which allowed Wome to float the ball inside the far post despite the set piece being from a prohibitive angle.
The match went to extra time, and just four minutes into the first half Celtic went ahead for the third time. Mogorosi met a cross from the left flank and powered a header toward goal from the edge of the box. Mweene made a rare mistake and allowed the ball to pass through his hands, making it 3-2 to the visitors.
Celtic will face Mamelodi Sundowns (who defeated SuperSport United 1-0 on Saturday night in the first semifinal) in the final. The date, time and venue will be announced by the PSL in due course.
Free State Stars (0) (2) 2 (Wome 71’ 84’)
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) (2) 3 (Madubanya 52’, Manzini 81’, Mogorosi 94’)
Stars: Mweene, Esterhuizen (Mkhatshwa 70’ [Dondo 97’]), Cardoso, Ouro-Akoriko, Thabakang, Mashego (Sambu 90+3’), Kerspuy, Masehe, Nomandela, Wome, Mvula
Celtic: Tignyemb, Mzava (Leonard 77’), Isaacs, Nthethe, Mahoa, Nyanda (Mogorosi 67’), Madubanya, Arwuah, Lakay, Gamildien, Bacela (Manzini 73’)