Celtic’s woes continue
Posted: 1 March 2009 Time: 18:11
Bloemfontein Celtic’s relegation fears must have deepened when they suffered a 2-0 defeat to AmaZulu on Sunday.
Based on their determination and goalscoring opportunities, this was not a game that Phunya Sele Sele deserved to lose, but their inability to convert chances let them down terribly and several golden opportunities went begging.
Early action was of a stop-start nature, although it was Owen Da Gama’s side who had more of the possession and posed more of a threat to the AmaZulu defence.
But there can be no excuse offered by Celtic for not taking an eighth-minute lead when Mark Mayambela unselfishly threaded Petrus Mahlatsi through on goal.
Just five yards out and with only goalkeeper Kalililo Kakonje to beat, Mahlatsi made a total hash of his shot, skying the ball metres over the bar.
The home crowd had been their usual vocal self throughout the game, but there was a deathly silence in the 18th minute when Sthembiso Dlamini scored for the visiting side.
From a tight angle from out on the right, it can only be assumed that Dlamini was trying to pick out a teammate at the back post, but instead the ball drifted over the head of Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb and into the net.
After the goal Celtic seemed to up their game, and in the 30th minute Moses Spandeel blazed a shot wide from the edge of the box after some good hold-up play by Shaun Bartlett, who was making a rare start for the Free State side.
Eight minutes later Bartlett set up Spandeel again, this time curling in a cross from the left wing with his right foot, but Spandeel got his timing of the header all wrong.
There was a chance at the other end of the field as Thabo Mabaso, in a similar position to where Dlamini had scored, tried to squeeze in a shot at the near post.
His effort was viciously hit, with pin-point accuracy, but Tignyemb's reflexes were all in order and he made a smart save.
Mabaso's effort apart, it was all Celtic by this stage, and defender Timothy Batabaire nearly snatched a 45th minute equaliser when his stooping header flew inches over the bar.
While Celtic's efforts should have earned them a goal, they found themselves 2-0 down minutes after the restart when Bafo Biyela cleverly fashioned space for himself on the edge of the box before unleashing a clinical left-footed drive into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Once again the team in their famous green and white hoops rallied hard to try and get back in the match, and they came close in the 50th minute when Solomon Mathe's glancing header from John Maduka's free-kick sailed just wide of the upright.
Celtic, with Tlou Segolela making a big impact off the bench down the left wing, continued to attack with purpose, but in general found the Usuthu centreback pairing of Bukasa Kasonga and Pere Ariweriyai to be a commanding presence.
Segolela did manage to create a chance in the 65th minute, but his well-struck 25-yard drive flew inches over the crossbar.
Batabaire demonstrated his aerial presence to out-jump Kakonje in order to reach Maduka’s 78th minute free-kick, but his header landed the wrong side of the upright.
For all Celtic’s endeavours they just could not find the back of the net, and they were cruelly denied a consolation goal in injury time when Geofrey Serenkuma struck the crossbar.
The only blotch on a great afternoon for Clive Barker’s Durban side came in the dying seconds when Ariweriyai was sent off for a reckless challenge, but other than that it was an important three points earned as AmaZulu look to ensure they are not sucked in to the relegation zone.