COVID-19 lockdown a blessing in disguise to Celtic

Bloemfontein Head Coach, Lehlohonolo Seema

Bloemfontein Head Coach, Lehlohonolo Seema

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News)THE coronavirus-enforced recess in the Absa Premiership has come as a blessing in disguise from perennially-troubled Bloemfontein Celtic as it pushes for yet another top-eight finish and success in the Nedbank Cup.

Head coach, Lehlohonolo Seema, said the break had presented an opportunity for his key players to recover from injuries ahead of the conclusion of the 2019/20 campaign.

The season has again been characterised by off-field drama including reports of non-payment of salaries and recurrent speculation of a takeover of the financially-beleaguered club.

However, like last season when they finished in the top eight at the expense of their more stable rivals, the defiant Phunya Sele Sele are again in a good position, ninth in the standings and are in the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup.

“We have a number of injured players who we believe would have nursed when the lockdown ends,” Seema said in a telephonic interview with CAJ News.

He cited the likes of Zimbabwe international fullback Ronald Pfumbidzai, midfielder Lucky Baloyi and goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.

However, Seema maintains there is no pressure from management to finish high on the 16-team table that is led by Kaizer Chiefs on 48 points, 20 more than Celtic.

“The management did not give us the exact target position to end our season but we have taken it upon ourselves to try to do better than last season,” Seema, a former defender and captain of the club, said.

Celtic are also in the semis of the Nedbank Cup and are fixtured to play Baroka.

Seema said while the lockdown offered his side reprieve, it had disrupted training and put Celtic at a disadvantage compared to opponents that can afford the technology to defy the restrictions.

“As you might know, we do not have adequate resources let alone the access to modern technology being used by other rival teams in the Premiership that help players train together during the lockdown period,” the ex-Lesotho national said.

“Under the circumstances, I communicate with individual players, break down daily programs for them so that they keep fit. Other than that, I wish the club had access to video technology to enable us to boost our training capabilities,” Seema added.

The 39-year-old has been with the club through its challenges before, including its relegation in 2001 when he was a player.

He is in his first stint as a substantive coach.

“Remember, I have been with the club for quite some time. I know the culture of the team. I also know the players and the team’s ambition……so that (coaching fulltime) has not been a challenge for me,” Seema said.

He meanwhile added his voice to calls for South Africans to abide by the government decree on the lockdown.

“I did not go home to Lesotho. I’m indoors here in Bloemfontein with my family,” Seema said.

– CAJ News

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