IN IT TO WIN IT
Bloemfontein Celtic’s Tshepo Rikhotso fights for the ball with Platinum Stars’ Gift Sithole during their Telkom Knockout match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg yesterday
Bloemfontein Celtic are on a roll! The team continued with their rich vein of form when they eliminated Platinum Stars from the Telkom Knockout last 16 following a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg yesterday.
The Free State outfit recovered from a poor first half showing to score two goals and book a semifinal spot at the expense of shellshocked Dikwena.
A brilliant free kick by Lantshene Phalane 13 minutes into the second half and a tap-in by Tshegofatso Mabaso nine minutes from time cancelled out Bonginkosi Ntuli’s first-half opener.
It was a game of two halves as Dikwena dominated the first, while Celtic were on top of their game in the second stanza.
Celtic are fourth on the log with 15 points – just two points behind the log leaders from nine matches.
The Free State-based outfit are also having a good cup run as they made it to the semi-finals of the knockout.
Celtic defeated SuperSport United on penalties after their game ended 2-2 after extra time last weekend. Dikwena also had to rely on the lottery of penalties against Maritzburg United after their contest ended in a goalless draw after 120 minutes of extra time in the last-16 round.
However, penalties were not needed by Celtic to advance into the last-four stage this time as they did the job in 90 minutes.
It was the home team that started brightly in hot weather in North West. Dikwena threatened to find the back of the net and kept Cameroon veteran goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb in the Celtic goal busy.
Katlego Otladisa was denied by the experienced Celtic shot-stopper as Dikwena enjoyed the majority of ball possession.
The referee stopped the game for a water break for players to cool off after 23 minutes.
Dikwena went into this encounter after a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Ajax Cape Town in the Premiership at the same venue in the middle of the week.
Dikwena skipper Vuyo Mere, who scored the winning goal against the Cape-based outfit, had a great game in the first 45 minutes, taking advantage of a few long-range opportunities.
Stars were eventually rewarded on the half-hour mark when Ntuli lobbed the ball over Tignyemb to break the deadlock.
Dikwena were full value for their lead going into the half-time break.
Celtic’s Ndumiso Mabena, who was playing against his former club, was isolated upfront and had a frustrating first half.
But Celtic were a much improved team in the second half as they took control of the game, scoring two goals to turn the game on its head.
RISE Celtic’s Ndumiso Mabena and Dikwena’s Gift Sithole