Arrows have edge over Celtic

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Kick off is at 15h00.

Abafana Bes’thende have failed to win in the last five league and cup fixtures, a run that came at just the wrong time for a team who looked to be outside challengers for the Premiership title in late February but are now aiming to finish in the top half. Nonetheless, coach Manqoba Mngqithi can take heart from the promise his team has shown this season. They are a predominantly young group of players who can only get better as they gain more experience.

And while the KwaZulu-Natal team will know that they have not been at their best in recent weeks, it is nothing compared to the drama suffered by their opponents, who have fired and rehired their coach Khabo Zondo in the midst of a run that has seen them lose four of their last five league games and get dumped out of the Nedbank Cup at the hands of First Division Ikapa Sporting FC.

Both teams had the last weekend off due to being knocked out of the cup in the first round (Arrows lost 1-0 at home to Jomo Cosmos) in mid March, so they should be fresh, fit and fired up for this encounter.

The last time the teams met was in the first round of the Absa Premiership on November 4, 2007, when a late goal from young defender Thabo Nthethe salvaged Celtic a point after Vusumuzi Vilakazi had put Arrows a goal up in the second half.

Celtic midfielder Ntokozo Sikhakhane tells KickOff.com that he is praying that his teammates can turn the corner against Arrows so that the pressure on them can be eased.

Sikhakhane will not be part of the squad travelling to Durban because of a knee injury he sustained at training this week.

“We are under pressure from everyone associated with the club because of our bad run recently. I was looking forward to playing a part in our fight to bounce back, but there’s nothing I can do because of this injury. I am praying we do well though I know it won’t be easy because Arrows are playing well at the moment and have home advantage,” said Sikhakhane.

Arrows:Date H/A Opponent Result22/03/08 H BidVest Wits D 0-008/03/08 A Santos L 1-305/03/08 H Mamelodi Sundowns L 1-201/03/08 A Orlando Pirates D 0-023/02/08 H Moroka Swallows W 1-0

Celtic:23/03/08 H Santos L 0-112/03/08 H Platinum Stars L 0-208/03/08 A Mamelodi Sundowns D 0-005/03/08 H Orlando Pirates L 0-102/03/08 A Moroka Swallows L 1-3

HEAD-TO-HEAD STATS:League meetings since 2000/01:

2000/01Celtic 2 Arrows 2Arrows 1 Celtic 0

2004/05Celtic 2 (Chabalala, Merahe) Arrows 0Arrows 0 Celtic 2 (Nkosi 2)

2005/06Celtic 0 Arrows 0Arrows 0 Celtic 0

2006/07Celtic 1 (Sikhakhane (pen)) Arrows 0Arrows 1 (Smith) Celtic 2 (Mahlatsi, Spandeel)

2007/08Celtic 1 (Nthethe) Arrows 1 (V.Vilakazi)