Energetic Celtic on a bumpy ride
IT'S the model of consistency versus the model of inconsistency in the Absa Premiership in Port Elizabeth this weekend, where unbeaten Kaizer Chiefs meet Bloemfontein Celtic at Nelson Mandela Stadium tomorrow night.
Log leaders Chiefs have been impressive in the efficiency with which they have dispatched smaller teams so far under Stuart Baxter, including last weekend's 2-0 defeat of Chippa United at Soccer City.
Bloemfontein Celtic notched an impressive 1-0 home win over champions Orlando Pirates to edge into seventh place. Celtic would be dark horses if they could just get some consistency together. They have followed every victory with a defeat this season, and vice versa.
Every win came at home and every defeat away, so it will be anyone's guess how they might fare on neutral territory this weekend - though Chiefs, of course, will have far more of the support in PE.
Celtic coach Clinton Larsen said their win over Pirates was an unconvincing performance. He believes his side played better in their previous 3-2 away defeat against Chippa United.
"On the balance of play Pirates were a better team on the day," the ex-Manning Rangers midfielder said.
"It just goes to show that this is a crazy game where you can play well and lose or play rubbish and win games."
Striker Lennox Bacela notched his third goal with the 77th-minute winner against Bucs and appears to be finally finding some sort of consistency in front of goal for Celtic.
Chiefs' one blemish against Chippa was their finishing. Baxter might consider starting Lehlohonolo Majoro tomorrow, who has scored two goals in two games from the bench, to partner the in-form Bernard Parker up front.
Baxter said he expects Celtic to give his side a tough outing.
"They will come with a mentality that they got three points against Pirates and why not against Chiefs? They will want to have a go at us and be the first team to beat us in the league this season," The coach said.
"I watched their game against Pirates and they played with lot of energy.
"We need to make sure our game plan is strong."
Baxter is hoping to have playmakers Siyabonga Nkosi and Reneilwe Letsholonyane back from injury.
The Chiefs coach admitted he's been "pleasantly surprised" at how his players have responded so far to his philosophy, which allows for expression, but within an organised framework.
"It usually takes a while to coach players, telling them what they are not doing right.
"They have managed to get the structure right without compromising their creativity and for this I am pleased."
In an earlier game tomorrow Free State Stars host Moroka Swallows at Goble Park in Bethlehem.
Third-placed Stars and fifth-placed Swallows will also consider themselves early contenders to be challengers for the title come May.
Zeca Marques's Birds, though, also need to find consistency, having won the MTN8 title already this season.
In the league big results such as last weekend's 2-0 victory at home to Mamelodi Sundowns have been mixed with defeats to teams like AmaZulu and Platinum Stars.