Lingwati thrown in deep end
While conceding the departure of centre-back Alfred Ndengane was a big blow, Bloemfontein Celtic coach Steve Komphela is pinning his hopes on Thato Lingwati to step up to the plate and partner Lorenzo Gordinho who is expected to return to Kaizer Chiefs in December.
Gordinho and Ndengane had forged a formidable central-defensive pairing before the latter mutually parted ways with the club last week.
Their partnership helped Celtic keep three clean sheets before losing to Free State Stars and Maritzburg United.
"With Ndengane gone, this is a big opportunity for Thato to raise his hand," said Komphela.
"He was acquired to help us at the centre-back. I have faith that he will plug that gap very well. We will have to help him and guide him because it's not easy.
"We will definitely miss Ndengane. His departure is a massive loss for us but we have to soldier on. There was a great chemistry between him and Gordinho.
"The emotional glue and telepathy between the two was amazing. When you break that, it is not easy to find it again."
In reiterating the importance of having a central-defensive pair with a great understanding of each other, he used retired central-defensive duo of Nigerian Uche Okechukwu and Danish Jes Hogh as his point of reference.
"I always make an example of Hogh and Okechukwu. They both played for Brondby IF in Denmark. Both were bought by Fenerbahce in Turkey in 1994. This tells you the importance of the central pairing in defence. When you break that, it does affect [the] game plan," stated Komphela.