Bloemfontein Celtic coach John Maduka has urged his charges to show no fear when they take on Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Celtic play highly fancied Sundowns a week after Downs clinched the league title in dramatic fashion from under the nose of Kaizer Chiefs.
Having already won the Telkom Knockout and league title, Sundowns are chasing the treble.
“For those [the Celtic team] it will be their first time playing in a cup final‚ that’s a motivation on its own,” said Maduka.
“They must be happy and excited at this opportunity but we will make sure that they don’t put themselves under unnecessary pressure.
“We must also make sure they don’t get too excited because if that happens you end up not doing the right things. So we are trying to tell them it’s just another game.
“We know that if you are a footballer‚ there will always be tension before a match but after a few touches of the ball you’ll be okay.
“We have told the players not to have fear‚ we have asked them not to play the game [in their minds] before Saturday and they must focus on the preparations so they are ready for the match.”
Celtic and Sundowns have stayed in the bio-bubble the longest as they restarted the season with the Nedbank Cup‚ semifinal wins over Baroka FC and Bidvest Wits on August 8.
“Our plan was to play nine matches and that’s seven in the league and two in the Nedbank Cup. So‚ mentally already we prepared the players that we might be the first to get into the bubble and the last to get out.
“It is happening the way we planned it … we warned them before we left Bloemfontein they may stay in the bubble for a long time.
“During our time in the bubble‚ we have made sure we take one game at a time. We have worked on mental strength and that has proved to be good for us and it helped us to manage to finish in the top eight.”
Maduka also welcomed back influential captain and attacker Ndumiso Mabena and key defenders Justice Chabalala and Mzwanele Mahashe from suspension.
“We are happy to have them because they are very important in our team.”
Even in the case of defeat‚ Celtic have qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup because Sundowns have booked their place in the Caf Champions League by winning the league and Maduka is looking forward to continental football.
“We are happy that we have qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup where we will be representing SA. It is a good opportunity for the players and the club to be exposed at that level on the continent.
“When it comes to the financial stuff‚ the management is aware of the situation and they have to dig deep to make sure that everything goes according to plan.”
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