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United's Tembo accused of mind games ahead of return MTN8 semifinal tie

Maduka refuses to accept Celtic favourites tag

Neville Khoza Journalist
Celtic coach John Maduka.
Celtic coach John Maduka.
Image: Gallo Images

John Maduka refused to buy into Kaitano Tembo's “mind games” ahead of the MTN8 semifinal second leg between Bloemfontein Celtic and SuperSport United at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium tomorrow (3pm).

SuperSport coach Tembo fired the first salvo in the psychological battle surrounding their return leg when he said Celtic are favourites and are under more pressure to win than his side.

But Maduka responded that the pressure is on SuperSport as they are trying to defend their MTN8 title.

The two teams head into the return leg after their 1-1 draw in Pretoria last week.

“The pressure should be on them. SuperSport are the defending champions, so they want to defend this cup,” Maduka responded.

“He [Tembo] is playing mind games. We are not the favourites. They are the favourites. They are defending champions and should be favourites.

“It doesn’t mean that we scored an away goal in Pretoria in the first leg, then we are favourites. They are defending champions and they have to defend this cup.

“So the pressure should be on them, not us. We are not under pressure. We are going there to play our game and try to put ourselves in the final. As much as we scored a goal away, that does not put us under pressure. We are playing at home and like we normally go to every game, we will try to win the match.”

However, Maduka feels that the experience of reaching the Nedbank Cup final, where they lost 1-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns two months ago, will help them this time should they progress to the final.

“I think it will help us. It has been helping us. You could see how we managed to play the first leg. It's because of the Nedbank Cup competition,” Maduka said.

“You could see in that final that we were afraid a little bit. We believe that if this time we got to the final, it won’t be the same thing again because we’ve tasted and we’ve felt what it is like to be in the final.

“Most of them [Celtic players], it was their first time in the final so there was fear somewhere, somehow. The players had that fear – you could see they were not that relaxed – but if we pass this stage and we go into the final, I’m telling you it is going to be a different story.”

Maduka, meanwhile, will welcome back goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane who was hospitalised after the first leg in Pretoria.

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