NELSPRUIT – Bloemfontein Celtic Ladies have set their sights on becoming the second team to win the Sasol League National Championships three years in a row.
Celtic defeated Cape Town Roses 2-0 on Saturday at Kabokweni Stadium to retain the trophy they won last year in Mossel Bay.
The Free State champions have been in every championships since the tournament’s inception in 2009, but before last year, they had never been in the final.
Two years later, Celtic are on the brink of matching the record set by Palace Super Falcons who won this tournament from 2011-2013.
“Next season is going to be memorable and enjoyable,” Celtic’s defender Bambanani Mbane said.
“We want to keep this trophy in Bloemfontein for good by winning it for a third year in a row. There are young players looking up to us. We have to inspire them by doing well and succeeding so that they know what’s the benchmark. Winning trophies will motivate them.”
Mbane finished the tournament with two individual awards. The Banyana Banyana defender was named Queen of the Tournament and Queens’ Queen of the Tournament. Mbane led the champions’ defence with distinction with her calm demeanour.
“There was pressure on us to do well from the first game,” Mbane said.
“We knew that we had to work as a team to meet our objectives and retain our trophy. We knew that everyone that will come against us will look to beat us as the champions. Our discipline and fighting spirit helped us win this cup.”
Celtic coach Edwin “Motale” Lisene argued that they are reaping the rewards of getting over stage frights that held them back from going far in this competition. But now that they have tasted success, everyone in the camp is confident that they will keep winning for many years to come.
“Let me be honest with you, these girls are still young,” Lisene said. “There are only two or three players who want to quit football. But we won’t let them quit football for the sake of it. We have other youngsters at home.
“We have built a strong team for next year already. Most of these girls are 21-22 years old. We are still going to use more or less the same team next year and add a few youngsters.”
* Njabulo Ngidi is in Nelspruit courtesy of Sasol