Nedbank Cup final predictions – Can Celtic derail Sundowns’ treble bid?
Phakaaathi's Khaya Ndubane and Jonty Mark give their view on who they think will take home the trophy, and why.
Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic, seen here in a league game in February, will go head to head in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday. Pic: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
It’s Nedbank Cup final day on Saturday, with the final piece of domestic piece of silverware of the season on offer to Bloemfontein Celtic or Mamelodi Sundowns as they do battle at Orlando Stadium.
Pitso Mosimane’s Sundowns are on a trophy rampage, coming off the back of snatching the Absa Premiership crown from Kaizer Chiefs on the last day of the season, and chasing a domestic treble, with the 2019 Telkom Knockout also in the trophy cabinet.
Celtic, however, have been in good form in the bio-bubble, have secured a top eight finish in the Premiership, and will feel they have a chance of springing a surprise on Masandawana.
Here, Phakaaathi’s Khaya Ndubane and Jonty Mark give their view on who they think will take home the trophy, and why.
Why Celtic will win
In a sense, it is a miracle that Bloemfontein Celtic still exist, given their financial troubles of recent times, never mind that they are playing in a cup final, with a chance to win a first trophy in eight years on Saturday, and one that will boost their coffers by R7 million to boot. Much of the credit for this has to go to Celtic’s coaching staff and players, who were not paid at times in the 2018/19 season, but still went to training and still turned up to play. This season, Celtic have overcome the loss of their head coach Lehlohonolo Seema, who went to Chippa United during the lockdown, to be one of the best performing sides in the bio-bubble under the steady hand of John Maduka. Celtic haven’t lost a single match in the bubble, including putting a serious dent in Kaizer Chiefs’ title hopes with a 3-1 win. They have drawn five of their eight matches since lockdown, but sealed a top eight spot with a 3-1 win over Maritzburg United last weekend. In Victor Letsoalo, Ndumiso Mabena and Lesotho international Sera Motebang, Celtic have a trio of forwards capable of troubling any team, and I expect them to repeat what happened in 2012, when Phunya Sele Sele won their last trophy, the Telkom Knockout, with a surprise 1-0 win over Sundowns.
Why Sundowns will win
Why Sundowns will win
There’s no doubt that Mamelodi Sundowns are overwhelming favourites to beat Bloemfontein Celtic and win the Nedbank Cup. After all, the Brazilians have had the better of Siwelele three times already this season. They beat them 3-1 in the MTN8 at the beginning of the season, before doing a league ‘double’ over them – winning 2-1 in both legs of the 2019/20 season. Overall, Sundowns have a very good record against Celtic and one has to go back to March 2016 the last time Siwelele tasted victory over the Brazilians, winning 3-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium. Overall head-to-head statistics also heavily favour Sundowns going into this encounter as in the 38 matches between the sides since 2007, the Brazilians have won 23, Siwelele six and the other nine ended in draws. Sundowns have also won the last two cup meetings between the sides – a 1-0 victory in the Telkom Knockout last season and a 3-1 win in the MTN8, as mentioned earlier. Based on the evidence I presented above I think Sundowns will edge Celtic 2-1, clinch the Nedbank Cup and complete a treble.