Celtic, Bay fight for survival

Bloemfontein Celtic coach Owen da Gama is not pushing any panic buttons as relegation-threatened Phunya Sele-Sele face a crunch Absa Premiership clash against Santos at the Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Da Gama was not fazed after his side dropped back to second from bottom with 26 points after fellow relegation candidates Thanda Royal Zulu scored a shock 1-0 win over Mamelodi Sundowns at Mpumalanga Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

TRZ have moved three points ahead of Celtic. ”But,” stated Da Gama, ”our fate is in our own hands. We have four games left to get to 34 points which is the safety margin. We are not going to depend on other clubs doing us any favours. We will do it for ourselves.”

Da Gama congratulated Thanda and new coach Professor Ngubane on their deserved win. Said Da Gama: ”Thanda played really well but Sundowns were disappointing. But this result underlines the fact we have to get ourselves out of trouble and not rely on other results going our way.”

Celtic were beaten 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup last weekend away to First Division outfit Pretoria University and although Da Gama was disappointed in losing, it must be seen as a blessing in disguise as he can now focus all his energies on the last four league matches.

After Santos, Celtic play two home matches against bottom club Bay United and Platinum Stars and end their season away to Free State Stars.

Said da Gama: ”Platinum Stars are not out of the woods and, if we can beat them, we can drag them into the relegation battle. So it is up to us to go out and get the points we need to be safe. We face four cup finals before the season ends and that is the bottom line.”

Bay coach Khabo Zondo said he remains positive when they host AmaZulu at the ERPU Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Said Zondo: ” We have 20 points and, if AmaZulu take us for granted, they will pay with three points as we are not out of the fight yet.

”Mathematically we can still survive. But it will be a challenge and we are still fighting. As long as we stay positive I believe anything can happen.

”Who would have believed that Thanda would beat Sundowns? Everyone expected Sundowns to roll over Thanda and look what happened. There is no reason for us not to believe we cannot beat AmaZulu.”

Zondo said the crunch game for Bay would be away to Bidvest Wits at Milpark on May 2. Said Zondo: ” I believe that will be the make or break game for us.”

Bay were beaten 2-0 in their last fixture at home to Kaizer Chiefs. Said Zondo: ” We played well enough but could not score. We need to sort that out before we play AmaZulu.”

Bay will rely on Jimmy Zakazaka and newcomer Mphelo Galada plus the hard working midfielder Garth Ncaca to unlock the Usuthu defence.

In Sunday’s other fixture Platinum Stars play Maritzburg United at Potchefstroom’s Olen Park. Kick-off is also at 3pm.

Both clubs are on the fringe of the relegation zone and the winner would start breathing easier as three points would take them clear of the drop zone. — Sapa

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