JOHANNESBURG – Played three, won three. Surely they are going to make it four out of four.
The above stats make up the impressive 100 percent record of Bloemfontein Celtic in cup finals.
And as they take on Bidvest Wits in the Telkom Knockout final tonight, surely the club veterans who make up part of the administration and technical team would have shared this with the team as motivation.
Veselin Jesulic’s team would not like to be remembered as the first Celtic team to lose in a cup final now, would they?
To stop that they will need to have 1985, 2005 and 2012 in their minds for inspiration as they trot on to the Princess Magogo Stadium pitch for tonight’s 6pm clash with a Wits side enduring a pathetic start to the season.
Here’s a reminder of Celtic’s three Cup final triumphs...
1985 Mainstay Cup: Bloemfontein Celtic 2 African Wanderers 1 (after extra time)
A star-studded Celtic team, that had the likes of Ernest Chirwali, Eden Katanko, Jacob Pilane, Ronnie Malefetsane and Albert Sibiya, delivered Phunya Sele Sele’s maiden trophy in a fascinating encounter at Ellis Park.
Under the watchful eye of Dave Roberts, Celtic were always favourites against African Wanderers and when they raced into the lead through Jacob Pilane’s third minute goal, it appeared they would canter to success. With Chirwali dictating terms like an orchestra conductor, Celtic thrilled their fans as they dominated play.
But Abaqulusi would have none of it as they regrouped from the early setback to make an intriguing contest of the match.
Dees Abdul scored the equaliser at the beginning of the second half, and the teams needed extra time to be separated. Ishamael Mokitlane scored the goal for a famous victory that is still celebrated to this day by the fans of the green and white.
2005 SAA SUPA8: Bloemfontein Celtic 1 SuperSport United 0
It took Celtic 20 years to reach their second final, and boy did they make sure it counted! Ahead of the final against the defending champions, Celtic’s maverick coach Paul Dolezar had spoken of how his “big animal” Rotson Kilambe would be key for them.
And true to form, the Zambian striker delivered, his 64th-minute headed goal separating the two sides and earning Celtic glory.
But it was the heroics of goalkeeper Posnett Omony that this match will always be remembered for. The Ugandan goalkeeper had stood between Celtic and defeat with a splendid first-half performance as his brilliance in the air rendered the tall Lungisani Ndlela ineffective.
He’d also made a stunning save to deny Katlego Mphela before a collision with the striker late in the game forced him off.
That Dolezar did not want to replace him and even asked substitute Simon Gopane to convince Omony to stay on told the story of the goalkeeper’s impact.
At the final whistle, Dolezar could be seen hugging Omony as he hobbled about the pitch on crutches.
2012 Telkom Knockout: Bloemfontein Celtic 1 Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Five years ago today at the Moses Mabbhida Stadium, Joel Mogorosi ‘scored’ the goal that earned Celtic their third trophy.
Though it is now infamously referred to as the ‘ghost goal’ because the ball actually did not cross the line, it counted then and will always count as the strike that delivered the Telkom Knockout title for Clinton Larsen’s Celtic.
A cross into the box by Limbikani Mzava bounced off a few heads before Mogorisi’s one directed it goalwards. Sundowns’ Clayton Daniels cleared the ball before it could cross the line, but assistant referee Thembisile Windvoel inexplicably adjudged for a goal to Sundowns’ anger and frustration despite his being unsighted.
Sundowns had actually dominated play courtesy of Teko Modise calling the shots in midfield, but it was Celtic’s Lennox Bacela who had the game’s best chance only to fluff it.
Not that it mattered at the end as Phunya Sele Sele lifted the trophy.
* Celtic lost to Chiefs in the 1986 Champion of Champions Cup, but the competition was contested by winners of competitions from the previous seasons and does not count as a cup final. Pre-season competitions are also not considered.