Just before kick-off on Sunday at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, Bloemfontein Celtic supporters shouted at Santos substitute players to move off their team’s bench, and they obeyed.
After the Premier Soccer League game — in which Celtic lost 1-0 to Santos despite a spirited showing — angry Celtic fans had to be closely watched by police and security officials. Supporters gathered at the stadium exits, waiting to vent their anger at their team who chalked up their third consecutive loss at their acclaimed stronghold.
”Their ‘keeper hardly made a save,” was heard among the fuming bunch. ”What is wrong with them?” asked one Celtic supporter. ”They must know we are not happy; we want to show them how unhappy we are,” they threatened. Some started shouting at police officials, but the men in blue remained calm and the fans kept their distance.
Celtic’s players were indeed not composed on the field and this cost them, according to coach Khabo Zondo.
”We made the wrong decisions in the final third of the pitch. The finishing was rushed or just off, and this cost us,” he said. ”But I am happy with the performance. They [Santos] showed determination and they played confidently. We knocked the ball around and without a doubt we were the better team. We just could not finish properly and this is something we will work on.”
Since the arrival of former Botswana Under-23 coach David Bright, Santos use five defenders in their starting line-up and have won six games this year.
Zondo said Santos came with a plan to catch his team on the counter-attack. ”You could see they just waited to counter us. I mean, we had a corner and the next thing the ball is cleared and they scored. So their plan worked but I still think we were the better team.”
Celtic are 13th on the premiership table, but Zondo said he will not focus on the team’s position as he does not want his players to panic.
”If we look at where we are and where other teams are, then we’ll put ourselves under pressure and we don’t want that. It is obvious that we have to win games and I believe we will. Today’s performance gives me the belief that we will get positive results; it’s just a matter of time.”
Earlier this month, Celtic fans demanded that Zondo be reinstated after he was fired by the club’s management. Within a week of his dismissal, the coach was back in the job.
Celtic fans have shown that the club ”belongs” to them and, after another disappointment, it seems their power is what their beloved team need to win. — Sapa