Phali weary of Celtic’s 12th man

Jomo Cosmos and Bloemfontein Celtic will meet for the second time in two weeks, but this time it is Premiership football that sees Celtic host bottom of the log Cosmos at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium.

The match is scheduled for a 19h30 kick-off on Wednesday night.

Celtic have suffered two straight defeats to AmaZulu and Cosmos in the PSL and Telkom Knockout respectively, in which they have failed to score in the past two encounters.

Reports were suggesting that striker Lennox Bacela could return to the Celtic set-up, but defender Thabo Nthethe remains unsure of whether or not he will feature.

“I am not even sure if Lennox will feature but he has started training and will undergo tests at the physio and then it will be decided,” the skipper notes.

“We need him though as he provides the goals up front. We needed him against AmaZulu and Cosmos, so his return will help a lot.”

Should Bacela not make the squad, coach Clinton Larsen will also have the option of new signing Ezenwa Otorogu, whose work permit has finally been cleared.

“Otorogu will help as he will provide us with goals up front. In training he is proving to be good and he can now feature for the side, as he wasn’t allowed to do previously because he couldn’t get the work permit, but now he is available,” Nthethe says.

Having lost 3-0 to Cosmos in the cup two weeks ago, Nthethe stated that the team is determined to make amends for their early elimination.

“Our last match against Cosmos was not our night. We wanted to go further in the knockout round because it was only the first leg.

“But on Wednesday we want the full points and we will make a turnaround from that match. I think it will be a totally different game from the one in the cup.”

Despite Celtic’s recent dip in form, Cosmos goalkeeper Avril Phali believes that the Bloemfontein side will come back fighting.

“Beating Celtic was a huge boost, but they lost to AmaZulu on the weekend and before that to us in the Telkom knockout so they will come back fighting,” Phali says.

“They will be playing in their own back yard, but we are ready.”

Phali also stated that the first half of the match will be absolutely crucial for Ezenkosi to ensure success, as the second half will see the home fans play a crucial role for Celtic.

“Having beaten hem helps give us the extra edge, but we will have to take our chances and punish them. It is important to kill the game in the first half, as they will have the 12th man in the second half because they will be playing at home.”

The teams have met in 41 league games since 1985 and Ezenkosi have 18 wins to Phunya Sele Sele’s 13. In matches played in the Free State, Cosmos have claimed eight wins from 20 matches compared to Celtic’s five.