Bloemfontein Celtic’s Malawian Coach, John Maduka, has said victory over South Africa Premier Soccer League giants Mamelodi Sundowns was far from surprising.
Celtic earned a surprise 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 quarterfinals, a result that saw Maduka win the fourth game out of 10 since taking over about two months ago.
The former Malawi national football team captain has lost just once with five matches ending in stalemates.
Celtic went into the game as underdogs with Sundowns unleashing a star-studded line-up under the tutelage of renowned coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela.
Sundowns, who were made to look like an ordinary team, recently lost long time mentor Pitso Mosimane but are still definitely the league’s strongest team.
Maduka told The South African that he told his charges to use spaces behind Sundowns’ defence and defend well.
“What we did was to allow them to have the ball, we drop a bit so that we can be able to use the space behind their defence and we defended well. That’s one thing we wanted to make sure of, make sure that we defend well. If we defend well, we knew that at the end of the day we’ll be able to win the game.
“The first half where we were losing it is that we couldn’t keep the ball a little bit longer in the final third and, as a result, we ended up getting frustrated. Immediately, our wing-backs go to support the strikers. You find that our strikers don’t keep the ball well, we lose the ball.
“So at half-time, we tried to tell them that let’s try to keep the ball a little bit longer and let’s try to keep it in their half. We knew that if we’re able to do that, we were waiting for that moment and that moment came and we got the goal,” Maduka was quoted as saying.
Maduka has boosted his side with other signings such as joint league top scorer Peter Shalulile, Kermit Erasmus, Haashim Domingo and Ricardo Goss.
The Malawian was pushed into the hot-seat during the closing stages of the 2019/20 campaign following the abrupt departure of Lehlohonolo Seema and he has not disappointed.
Maduka outsmarted ex- Kaizer Chiefs Coach Ernst Middendorp during a league defining clash last season before outclassing Maritzburg United’s Eric Tinkler.
Celtic next turn their attention to Golden Arrows in their opening DStv Premiership clash on Saturday.