Celtic midfielder Lucky Baloyi explained how he and his teammates overcame their tumultuous season. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

BLOEMFONTEIN – Celtic midfielder Lucky Baloyi explained how he and his teammates overcame the tumultuous season Phunya Sele Sele had off the field to finish in the top eight. 

Celtic fans shut down the City of Roses upon hearing that the club was up for sale and could be sold to a businessman from Kimberley who would relocate it. When that wasn’t enough, they boycotted games and even stormed the pitch to stop the club’s league clash with Cape Town City, which led to Celtic playing their last home game in the Eastern Cape.

The players were also not paid their salary in certain months while other players had to wait a long time to receive their signing-on fees. They went on strike and coach Steve Komphela resigned as he couldn’t deal with the chaos. Despite this, Celtic finished in eighth place.

Ndumiso Mabena of Bloemfontein Celtic during MTN8 2019 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic.Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

“What we did as senior players was to sit down with the young ones because we have a lot of youngsters in the team,” Baloyi said. “There was a lot happening, like being paid late. We had to sit down with them and tell them let’s just focus so that we are able to achieve things because at the end of the day we are players and we want to achieve things.

That’s what helped the team, the senior players standing up for the young players and ensuring that mentally we are strong.

“It was disturbing a lot, knowing that you’re working hard but when it comes for you to be paid there are issues. This season we shouldn’t have such problems because it even cost us our supporters who ended up going into the pitch while we were playing Cape Town City and we lost points.

But while that was happening, we worked hard to get maximum points and we ended up finishing in the top eight.”

The situation seems to be better this season and Siwelele have returned in their numbers. Celtic also look like the real deal on the pitch, troubling Orlando Pirates with their pace before drubbing Golden Arrows 5-0.

They will look to continue that run tonight at Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium when they host Mamelodi Sundowns in the league. The Brazilians have an edge over Celtic who they eliminated in the MTN8. This league clash will be different though, with Celtic playing in front of the fans they are trying to win over again.

“At Celtic there is this thing of loving one another,” Baloyi said. “The few senior players we have, make sure that we take care of the young players so that they can go far and achieve what we have achieved. If you look at the senior players we have, for example me, I played for Kaizer Chiefs and Moroka Swallows.

It would be a great thing to see some of the young players I am guiding go on to play for teams like Orlando Pirates or Sundowns because that’s the most important thing.

“If you are a youngster, you want to play for a big team and go on from there to represent the country. What we are doing is to make sure that we spend a lot of time, guiding them.

What’s important is that they are willing to listen. We are one family. There is so much love there.”

Bonginkosi Ndadane