Party poopers

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Bloemfontein Celtic could not have asked for a more opportune time to face Mamelodi Sundowns in their Absa Premiership opener at Free State Stadium on Sunday at 3pm.

Phunya Sele Sele are in high spirits after the extension of their Vodacom sponsorship and are keen to celebrate this by breaking their jinx against Sundowns who boast a galaxy of stars in their ensemble.

Siwelele, their myriad devotees, are expected to come in throngs to spur Celtic on against a team capable of embarrassing them at home.

It is interesting to see how Mich D'Avray will fare in his first official game at Celtic after the team spoke highly of the former national Under-23 mentor who joined them in the off-season.

While the Brazilians made headlines with their signing spree in the close season, Celtic quietly roped in players who are relatively unknown.

They believe their new recruits will prove their worth this season and Sundowns are warned to tread cautiously.

The hosts have beefed up their strike force with the talented Abel Ntho, 25, who was captured from National First Division club Witbank Spurs.

They have brought in Billy Ratsoana from Lamontville Golden Arrows to close the void left by James Madidilani. Defender Ditheko Mototo is also good cover for Gary Goldstone who went to Maritzburg United.

Fischer Kondowe is another good catch and will offer D'Avray options in midfield.

The Brazilians will be without the suspended Subusiso "Rhee" Zuma and Robyn Johannes, and the injured Katlego Mphela. Collins Mbesuma is not fully fit.

But Trott Moloto has enough firepower left in his arsenal, which includes Benedict "Tso" Vilakazi, Surprise Moriri and Lerato Chabangu.

"We will not be carried away by the fact that they will be without some of their key players on Sunday. We are ready for them," Sello Nduna, Celtic's publicist, said yesterday.

Mahlatse Mphahlele, Sundowns' spokesman, said a win would set the tone for the new campaign.