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John Maduka’s Celtic to attack

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MADUKA—We have never taken it easy

Bloemfontein Celtic’s Malawian Coach, John Maduka, has said his side will attack Mamelodi Sundowns in Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final.

Maduka is yet to lose after eight games in the bio-bubble and goes into the clash with the hope of upstaging the South Africa Premier Soccer League champions.

The former Malawi national football team captain said rather than trying to contain Sundowns, his charges will go flat out in search of glory.

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“It is a motivation on its own to be in the final. We don’t want to put ourselves under pressure. There is excitement, but we don’t want the players to be too excited. There are so many things you want to do in that case and you end up not doing the right things. We try not to put pressure on the players, they must not have fear.

“You don’t want them [the players] to play the game [in their heads] before Saturday, and just focus on the preparations. Coach Pitso has done so well, Sundowns have represented us well whenever they go out of the country, they have done a lot and won so many things. It is good to see one of our black coaches doing well on a bigger stage. I am so happy for him,” Maduka told supersport.com.

He said they will fight hard to win the cup to reward their supporters who are among the most loyal in South African football.

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“It is a different game on a different day. In 2012, it was Telkom Knockout and this is now the Nedbank Cup. We have never been in the final before and, obviously, never won. We are very hungry to win, for ourselves and for the supporters.

“It is a different ballgame. They have beaten us [three times this season] before. We are aware how they beat us; going into this one it is different. We must just play according to our plan and try to win, just like we do in any other game. In football, you plan to win, but you sometimes get a different result. That is part of the game,”Maduka said.

He said going forward is one of his team’s strengths which has seen them score 13 goals in eight games.

“Before we came into the bubble, we knew we had a semifinal game to play [against Baroka FC] and our plan was to play nine games – seven in the league and two in the cup. Mentally, we prepared our players that we will be the first to come in, but also might be the last to go out. We did prepare them for that before we came.

“What we have done is to make sure we take one game at a time, the boys have been working very hard, we have never taken it easy. Mentally we have been strong. It has been difficult but we have tried our best to make sure we are strong.

“We always try our best as a team to make sure we are balanced. Going forward is one of our strengths. The games we have played since we have been in the bio-bubble as proven that. Defensively, we used to struggle, but it has also improved tremendously. We have not conceded now like we had in the past,” Maduka said.

Sundowns Coach Pitso Mosimane said he is wary of Celtic’s form and expects a tough battle at Orlando Stadium.

“It will be a difficult game of course. They are a very difficult team that is enjoying themselves. They are free-spirited, they pass well. Yoh, they can pass the ball and they have got nothing to lose and will give everything.

“They came with a different formation in the bubble. I was surprised, but they have been winning and they contributed to us winning the league title by stalling Kaizer Chiefs [with a 3-1 win]. If they can beat Chiefs, they can beat us also,” Mosimane said.

He said it would be exciting to face a team that needs the cup more.

“The ‘Treble’ is not there until we win the match. The worst thing is to think you have won the ‘Treble’ without playing it. You have to earn it, and history against Celtic in the cup is not good for us. If you look at it, you can say they need it more than us in terms of what has been happening lately, but football does not go like that.

“It will be so exciting to have the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium full and buzzing with supporters, and a challenge for opponents to have to come to that noisy stadium. I would be love to be part of that and witness history when it happens. It will be difficult for teams to go there. It is a great atmosphere,”Mosimane said

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