Bloemfontein Celtic have booked a place in the MTN8 final after they defeated SuperSport United 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Phunya Sele Sele edged the game – and the tie – thanks to a goal early in the second half from Victor Letsoalo, putting them into a second final in a matter of months, having also played in the Nedbank Cup final in September.
Celtic should have been awarded an early penalty when Mzwanele Mahashe was caught on the Achilles in the SuperSport 18-yard area by Bradley Grobler, but the incident was missed by the referee.
Grobler had the first shot in anger in the 15th minute, firing off a low left-footed effort from a tight angle which was turned away at his near post by Celtic goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane, while two minutes later Victor Letsoalo sent a curling effort inches wide of the mark at the other end.
United’s Thamsanqa Gabuza had a major influence on the game as the first half wore on, with his power proving difficult for the Celtic defence to handle. The striker thought he had broken the deadlock 10 minutes before the break when he headed home from a corner kick, but he was deemed to have committed a foul in the course of finding the net.
The first half ended with the teams still locked at 0-0 on the day and 1-1- overall, with Celtic in position to advance on away goals.
And the team in green and white saw their advantage grow when they claimed the lead five minutes into the second half. Given Mashikinya showed great game awareness to take a free kick quickly and put Letsoalo through on goal – the striker did just enough to squeeze the ball past Ronwen Williams and put Phunya Sele Sele 1-0 up.
SuperSport responded with a triple substitution which saw Kuda Mahachi, Evans Rusike and Iqraam Rayners enter the fray, while Celtic shored up their defence with the introduction of Mpusana Tani.
Midway through the second half the hosts should have ended the tie with a second goal, but a swift counter attack saw neither Ndumiso Mabena nor Letsoalo take responsibility – and they were nearly punished instantly when United attacked at the other end and Gabuza was denied by a fine save from Mabokgwane.
Matsatsantsa threw everything they had at Celtic in the latter stages of the match, but the Bloemfontein club were able to hold out and secure a first Top Eight final since they won the SAA Supa8 in 2005.
Celtic will face either Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs in the final in early December. The Soweto sides meet in the second leg of their semifinal tomorrow, with the Buccaneers holding a 3-0 lead.
SuperSport United 0
Celtic won 2-1 on aggregate
Bloemfontein Celtic: Mabokgwane, Ngobeni (Chabalala 72’), Rikhotso, Mahashe, Pfumbidzai, Baloyi, Mashikinya (De Jongh 90’), Fikizolo (Tani 57’), Luthuli, Mabena, Letsoalo (Potsane 90’)
SuperSport United: Williams, Nhlapo, Khumalo, Phillips, Bhasera, Webber (Rusike 55’), Waiswa (Rayners 55’), Mokoena, Lungu (Mahachi 55’), Gabuza, Grobler