We will miss our 12th man, says Celtic keeper

Neville Khoza Journalist
Jackson Mabokgwane of Bloem Celtic says playing without fans will be like playing friendly match.
Jackson Mabokgwane of Bloem Celtic says playing without fans will be like playing friendly match.
Image: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

As the Premier Soccer League (PSL) football is set to return this weekend with the Nedbank Cup semifinals after a four-month hiatus, Bloemfontein Celtic goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane feels it will be awkward playing without their fans.

Celtic will meet Baroka FC in the first semifinal at Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff time is 2pm. The second semifinal between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits will take place at the same venue in Soweto at 7pm.

Like most leagues around the world, the PSL will be played behind closed doors as a safety precaution. And having used to play in front of a decent crowd, especially when they host teams at home, Mabokgwane says it is something they will have to adjust to quickly.

"We will miss our fans, it will be an awkward game because obviously playing without supporters is normally when we are playing friendly matches," he told Sowetan yesterday.

"We will be the first ones to experience it. We are just looking forward to giving our best and try to win for our supporters. But we will definitely miss them. I guess we are professionals and also there are few senior players, it will be up to us to take the responsibility to help guide the younger ones and also be a little bit better in terms of communicating on the pitch. We can hear each other better and that will be an advantage, but we just have to be mentally strong and represent our people well."

With the teams meeting each other for the first time since the season was halted in mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak, the 32-year-old keeper believes that all the teams will be a closed book to each other in terms of what to expect.

"No one will know who is available and who is fit and the kind of momentum," he said.

"It is very difficult; it is an awkward situation, but we will definitely be up for the task having got enough time to prepare. Physically, the boys are ready to go.

"You can never underestimate any of your opponents. I mean Baroka are a very strong side, they won the trophy recently [Telkom Knockout 2018], so they do have experience and they do have the team to compete."

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