JOHANNESBURG – Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns became the first two teams to book their spot in the semi-finals of the MultiChoice Diski Shield after beating Free State Stars and Supersport United respectively at Vosloorus Stadium on Saturday.
Celtic’s first team duo Tshegofatso Mabaso and Neo Maema ensured that Celtic is in the last four of the tournament after their 2-1 win over Stars.
The win on Saturday might have just given them the hope of breaking the hoodoo that saw them being runners-up in the last two seasons to Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows respectively.
To compound the argument, this is the team that held the best scoring record in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge in both seasons.
However in this match, they dealt with an early blow as Stars drew first blow courtesy of Moeketsi Makhanya.
Makhanya scored from goalkeeper Sipho Chaine’s error, who failed to make a neat clearance from a set-piece, proving how leaky they have been in their defence in the league.
That early goal didn’t despair Celtic, though, as their powerhouses including Teboho Modise, Maema and Kgotso Mofokeng continued with their trickery and flair. The trio dominated the midfield for the better part of the match with creative play, but constructive football.
However, their finishing in the final third mostly let them down.
Last season’s MDC top goal-scorer Mabaso would eventually get the equaliser for Siwelele. The talisman was found unmarked inside Stars box for an easy tap-in.
Stars tried to come back into the game in the second half via Makhanya, who was causing all sorts of problems for Celtic’s defence, but failed to get his brace due to poor finishing.
Maema would put the nail in the coffin after goalkeeper Johannes Mofokeng initially saved the ball, and capitalising from a rebound in referee’s added time.
Meanwhile, Supersport started liked a house on fire after scoring a double in the first 15 minutes of the game, but Sundowns came back to win 3-2.
Dylan Stoffels opened the scoring for Matsantsantsa earlier on and that gave Sundowns a scare.
In a space of three minutes, Mtshweni doubled their tally after getting at the end of a delightful in-swinger from the midfield.
The midfielder timed his run into the box and calmly controlled the ball before placing it past an on-rushing Koketso Tshabalala.
Downs’ Promise Mukhuma was the driving force behind Sundowns comeback, using his pace and skill to take on Supersport’s defence, but there wasn’t much support upfront.
Not only was the semi-final spot up for grabs, but bragging rights meant a lot in this Tshwane Derby as well.
SuperSport were also hoping that doing well in this tournament would actually enhance a positive spirit in the club, as the chips are down, with relegation staring them straight in the eye.
The Brazilians, though, would find a breakthrough from a spot-kick that was converted by Keabetswe Mokwena. That boosted Sundowns’ confidence as they started to play with more hunger and aggression.
Mokwena was again the hero for his side after equalising from close-range.
With the game coming to a close and SuperSport praying for a draw in order to progress to the last four, the “Kabo Yellow Nation” had other ideas as substitute Siphesihle Mkhize headed in from a corner kick to send SuperSport packing.