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2017/18 season review: Bloemfontein Celtic

Posted: 15 June 2018 Time: 15:00

With the 2017/18 season officially over, looks back at each club’s campaign over the past year, reviewing their relative success, failures and where improvement is needed.

Wrapping up our analysis this week is Free State club Bloemfontein Celtic.

Beginning the season with a new coach in Serbian Veselin Jelusic, as well as new playing personnel such as Ndumiso Mabena, Lucky Baloyi and Jacky Motshegwa, the Siwele faithful had cause for optimism. And it started well enough with a 1-1 draw against Kaizer Chiefs, as the team lost just one of their opening seven games, and remained in the top eight over the first half of the season.

Yet a six-match winless run in January resulted in an arduous season run-in for the club, who failed to win any of their last six games, drawing the last five, as they limped to an 11th-place finish in the league, one better than last year and equal to their 2015/16 season finish.

All in all, Celtic won just eight league games, and only two back-to-back, and scored more than two goals just once the entire season in a memorable 3-0 derby win over Free State Stars.

In line with their good league start, Celtic continued that good momentum in the Telkom Knockout as well, beating SuperSport United, Platinum Stars and Polokwane City en-route to the final, albeit progressing via a penalty shootout on two occasions. They came just a goal away from silverware after conceding in added time to lose 1-0 to Bidvest Wits in the final.

Siwele continued their good cup showing in the Nedbank Cup, overcoming SuperSport United again on penalties in the first round before seeing off Richards Bay 3-1, yet bowed out the tournament in the quarter-finals after a 2-1 loss to eventual runners-up Maritzburg United.

Striking statistics
Celtic scored the second least amount of goals (25), and had the lowest conversion rate of any team in the league (5.8%). The Siwelele strike force netted just three goals in the last 15 minutes of the game across the entire season, the worst tally of any team in that period of the game. At the other end of the pitch, they conceded just 10 goals at home – the joint-best home defensive record in the league, yet that was all undone as they had the second-worst away defensive record, conceding 22 goals in their 15 away clashes.

Areas of improvement
Following a record low tally of just 16 goals scored last season, Celtic only went nine better this season, yet 25 goals in 30 league games is certainly not a tally to be proud of. Victor Letsoalo was the club’s league top scorer, yet he managed just six the entire campaign, with the club no doubt keen to bolster their attack.

Yet off-the-field controversy has destabilised the club in recent weeks, with coach Jelusic tendering his resignation with a number of his players set to follow suit, meaning a chaotic off-season could be in store for the well-supported but cash-strapped club, which is currently up for sale.

Article by: Fabio De Dominicis
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