Football resumes in virus-hit South Africa

Dagens Beste Fotball Oddstips Mamelodi Sundowns vs Orlando Pirates

Football resumed in South Africa on Saturday after a 145-day coronavirus-induced shutdown with Bloemfontein Celtic reaching the Nedbank Cup final behind closed doors.

The semi-final at Orlando Stadium in Soweto saw Celtic score in first-half stoppage time after Baroka had a man sent off, and twice more during the second half for a 3-0 win.

After Namibian Ananias Gebhardt was red-carded for a late, studs-up tackle, captain Ndumiso Mabena put Celtic ahead and substitute Sepana Letsoalo netted twice in the closing stages.

The teams walked separately on to the pitch, which resembled a dustbowl in parts after several months without rain, then stood still and clapped to honour coronavirus victims.

But unlike footballers in the major European leagues, they did not take a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that seeks racial equality.

Social distancing was observed after goals with hugging and high fives replaced by fist pumps and dance routines.

Mid-table league club Celtic will face Mamelodi Sundowns or Bidvest Wits, both of whom are eyeing a league and cup double, in the September 8 final.

Celtic, seeking a first triumph since 1985 in the South African equivalent of the English FA Cup, reached the penultimate stage this season on March 15.

It was the last match staged in the most industrialised African country before a temporary national lockdown was introduced to try and limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Disagreements between the South African Football Association (Safa) and its special member, the Premier Soccer League (PSL), delayed the restart from mid-July to August 8.

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