A point for Bloemfontein Celtic at home to ailing Maritzburg United on Sunday will represent the best start yet for Phunya Sele Sele to a premiership season as the club’s remarkable turnaround under coach Steve Komphela continues.
And midfielder Lantshene Phalane‚ who has played every minute of the campaign‚ says a change in the players’ attitude has played a big role in their improved fortunes‚ even as the club is shrouded in off-field problems as it seeks buyers.
“We believe in one another and we trust one another‚ that has been a big difference this season‚” Phalane said.
“We are trying to forget what is happening outside the team. We want to focus on helping ourselves and our careers by performing on the pitch.
“Coach Steve has been a big influence on us. We needed someone of his calibre to come in with the right tactical plan‚ but he has also brought a confidence to the squad.
“We play with a smile on our faces now. He has made us believe in ourselves. We are having fun again.”
Celtic have performed superbly‚ including a home win over Orlando Pirates and an away draw with Kaizer Chiefs‚ when they came from two goals down to secure a point.
They have managed 13 points from a possible 15 this season‚ the best points-per-game ratio of any team in the league‚ and have also kept clean sheets in four of their five matches.
“If you look at the points and the number of games‚ then Celtic is the best team in the league and at the moment we believe that. We are that confident. It is not arrogance‚ but the results this season have shown us that we can play well and win games,” he said.
Celtic’s points tally matches that of their equally impressive start in 2007-2008 under Khabo Zondo‚ though their sixth game that year ended in a 3-0 loss at Orlando Pirates and the team eventually finished 11th in the league. By the end of the campaign Zondo had been replaced by co-coaches Tony de Nobrega and Jimmy Augousti.