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Johannesburg – Bloemfontein Celtic's run to the Telkom Knockout final has signalled the rise of the club and instilled self-belief in the players, according to the side's assistant coach, Boebie Solomons.
The former Wits and Santos mentor was in charge on Sunday, with Celtic head coach Clinton Larsen serving a touch-line ban, as Phunya Sele Sele overcame provincial rivals Free State Stars 3-2 in the semifinal derby in Phuthaditjhaba.
They set up a clash with Mamelodi Sundowns, who defeated fellow Pretoria side SuperSport United 1-0 in Polokwane on Saturday, in the cup final on December 1.
“It's very good for the club,” Solomons said. “We are trying to put the club on the map. We have a sleeping giant and I think the giant is starting to wake up.
“We have a lot of young players in the team and reaching the final will help instil confidence in them and belief in themselves that anything is possible.”
Stars dominated in the first half but Celtic twice took the lead in the second period, and while the hosts fought back to equalise after both goals, Joel Mogorosi struck in extra time as the Bloemfontein outfit reached the final of the competition for the first time. “We showed character to overcome tough opponents like Stars and it shows we just have to be consistent in all departments,” Solomons said.
Stars coach Steve Komphela admitted his side had wasted numerous opportunities which they failed to convert, particularly in the first half. “We dominated the game but we lacked killer instinct and failed to take our chances,” Komphela said. “We gave away soft goals and we should learn not to lose concentration at this stage of the cup. “All we can say is good luck to Celtic, and for us life goes on as we continue our search for cup glory, which is key in any team success.” – Sapa