Friday Sep 11, 2020. 09:00
Bloemfontein Celtic club legend Ernest Mtawali has backed John Maduka to lead the club to Nedbank Cup glory this weekend.
Celtic will appear in South Africa’s equivalent of the FA Cup for the first time in 35 years on Saturday night, where they will come up against a Sundowns team chasing a domestic treble after clinching the Telkom Knockout (League Cup) and Absa Premiership in 2019-20.
Mtawali, who played for Celtic in the 1980s and early 1990s, feels his fellow Malawian Maduka has done a great job as caretaker coach in charge of Phunya Sele Sele, a position he assumed in August when Lehlohonolo Seema left to take charge of Chippa United.
Celtic are unbeaten in eight matches under Maduka since football resumed in South Africa, and he could become the first former player to win silverware for the club as head coach.
“Up to this far, Maduka has done very well for Celtic, you can see the players are more free. They are playing good football and have not lost since he took over,” Mtawali, who was part of Celtic’s Mainstay Cup winning team in 1985, told Sowetan Live.
“One of his big achievements was beating Kaizer Chiefs in the league 3-1 and that day the team played well with a lot of confidence. He has given the players a lot of freedom to express themselves. With the way they are playing now, I think we are going to see a very exciting cup final against Sundowns.”
Mtawali added, “It is not easy for former players to get a job in the PSL, but John has been with Celtic since he retired and he worked his way up to where he is now. We must also thank Celtic management for believing in him.
“I’m very happy to see a former player whom I played with in the national team progress so well.
“I think the advantage that John has now is that he played football at the highest level, won cups with Bush Bucks [his previous club as a player].
“Even better, Celtic has a lot of hungry youngsters who are eager to prove themselves.”