Free State Stars v Bloem Celtic

Free State Stars v Bloemfontein Celtic – Saturday 16th March – Charles Mopeli Stadium (15:00)

Noah Chivuta - Free State Stars

Noah Chivuta of Free State Stars during the MTN8 Quarter Finals

The remaining six Nedbank Cup round-of-16 matches will be played this weekend with the pick of the bunch being the Free State derby. Free State Stars get home ground advantage at their Charles Mopeli Stadium that will decide whether it’s the red or green half of Free State that goes away with the bragging rights and a ticket to the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup.

The Free State derby brings out the hunger for both teams, with both clubs fuelled on by their owners during the week leading up to the game. Free State Stars have also been given extra incentive in recent seasons by being paid big amounts of cash immediately after derby wins.

Thabo Nthethe - Bloemfontein Celtic

Thabo Nthethe of Bloemfontein Celtic

Free State Stars have had another good season so far as they look to improve on last season’s sixth place finish. They lie fourth on the table, one place above their local rivals by three points and behind only the two Soweto giants and the impressive Platinum Stars. Coach Steve Komphela has built a side without any star players implementing a good brand of football. The Bethlehem-based side, for whom Dove Wome and Luyola Nomandela are top scorers with only four goals each, have won five of their last eight games since the restart. Their last match saw them playing to a 1-1 draw at home to SuperSport United. It was a performance which boosted the team’s belief that they are a hard side to beat, which was said by defender Mbuyiselo Sambu after the match. SuperSport opened the scoring for Matsatsantsa, but 10 minutes before the end of regulation time Paulus Masehe brought Ea Lla Koto level to ensure a share of the spoils. They have lost just five times in their 21 league matches this season, a big improvement on the 10 they suffered last season. Only one of those five matches were lost at home. A second string Free State Stars booked their place in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup with a 1-0 win over First Division outfit Witbank Spurs. Coldrin Coetzee fired in a long-range deflected strike in the 32nd minute, sending Spurs goalkeeper Briace Msiza the wrong way, to give the hosts the lead, which they maintained till the final whistle.

The in-form Bloemfontein Celtic are unbeaten in their last five games and fought back courageously in their last match to draw 1-1 with Orlando Pirates.  Phunya Sele Sele’s recent run of form sees them placed fifth on the log after occupying ninth just before the break. The Bloemfontein side have battled on the road this season, winning just once on the road in the league. However, coach Clinton Larsen believes he has seen signs of improvement away from home in the New Year. “We have changed the way we have approached games, in certain games before we went to get a draw. We have changed that mindset, we are trying to win.” Bloemfontein Celtic fought back from a goal down to eliminate Milano United from the Nedbank Cup last 32 with a 4-1 win at the Free State Stadium.

Free State Stars won 1-0 in the league meeting here in December. Bloemfontein Celtic will fancy their chances considering their form but Free State Stars are tipped to make it their third consecutive home win over their local rivals. 

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