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Johannesburg - Lennox Bacela believes Bloemfontein Celtic can derail Kaizer Chiefs’ season, when Phunya Sele Sele face Amakhosi in two crucial games at the end of this month and in mid-April.
Celtic were on Tuesday drawn to take on Chiefs in the quarter-final of the Nedbank Cup, a match that Bacela welcomed with a grin as his team will host the tie in Bloemfontein.
That the sides meet in an Absa Premiership match next weekend, also in Mangaung, will hand an opportunity to Celtic to stop Amakhosi from turning the title race into a procession, while defeat for Chiefs in next month’s cup meeting would end their hopes of a rare league and cup double.
“All I’m happy about is that we are playing at home,” Bacela said following Tuesday’s last-eight draw in Johannesburg. “Before that cup match we play them in the league, and it gives us a great opportunity to show we are not just adding numbers in the Premiership. We have had a great record at home in the past two seasons.”
Chiefs will have to end a four-year barren spell if they are to achieve the double - they have not beaten Celtic in the Free State since the 2008/09 season.
This is one of the reasons Bacela was delighted yesterday in spite of his side drawing the Premiership leaders, and the fact that Celtic have also won a cup this season - the Telkom Knockout - has filled them with more confidence.
“Winning that cup has changed our mentality - we now want bigger things. Gone are the days when Celtic would be fighting just for survival. We have become very competitive. We have shown maturity because since we won the cup, we haven’t declined. Often, winning a cup leads to a dip in form, but that hasn’t happened to us.”
In lifting the Knockout in December, Celtic’s path was similarly tough, as they had to face Orlando Pirates twice within a short space of time - and they emerged victorious on both occasions. “It now feels the same. We play Chiefs twice, and we had to overcome Free State Stars in the last round, just like it was the case when we won the Knockout. But to be champions, you have to beat these strong teams. I have the confidence we can beat Chiefs, and, if that happens, there’s no doubt we’ll win this cup,” the Celtic striker said.
Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande, meanwhile, was unperturbed by Celtic’s great home record against them. “We can’t be talking about history. This is a completely new game, and we do have a great chance of beating them,” Katsande said. “It’s true that we haven’t done well there (in Bloemfontein) but we can turn it around.”
The Zimbabwean added that Amakhosi won’t be side-tracked in their mission to achieve the double. “We know what we have to do … we go there next week to get the three points, and we’ll return for the cup match. We are not going to put ourselves under pressure. We’ll deal with the games in front of us.”
He said the fact that Celtic had already won a cup this season, while Chiefs are still chasing their first since December 2010, didn’t bother him. “The fact is we have a chance to change that now. We can’t be worried about what Celtic have done. This is a new competition and any of the eight teams remaining have an equal chance of winning.” The quarter-finals will take place on the weekend of April 12-13.