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Bloemfontein Celtic v Maritzburg

Bloemfontein Celtic look set to be without several key men when they host Maritzburg United in a Nedbank Cup last-16 clash at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday night.

Phunya Sele Sele had to make do without Zimbabwean international defender Ronald Pfumbidzai, Lantshene Phalane, Mondli Mpoto and Aviwe Nyamende for Wednesday's Absa Premiership defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns.

To make matters worse, they also lost defender Wandisile Letlabika, who had just recently returned from a long injury lay-off, during the match against the Brazilians when he was stretchered off with what looked like a serious injury.

Despite being severely depleted, Celtic fought bravely in the 2-1 defeat to Sundowns, and coach Lehlohonolo Seema has asked the team's supporters to get behind the youngsters in the squad as they step into the breach left by their injured players.

“This thing is a process. For some of these players in our team it was the first time they played in front of this crowd," he said after the Sundowns defeat.

“I am happy with the way they applied themselves and you can only say that the future is bright and we will see how far we go."

Seema admitted the team was looking forward to returning to their own backyard after successive defeats to Highlands Park and Sundowns in Gauteng.

"Can we leave [Gauteng] please, there are no points here. Can we leave and go back to our happy hunting ground? It's not nice that we came here to play two games and came out with nothing," Seema said.

"Maritzburg are a good team and the only thing we are happy about is playing at home. We want to give this cup our best shot."

Despite enjoying home ground advantage, the match against Maritzburg will present Siwelele with a very tough task.

The Team of Choice are coming off back-to-back victories against Bidvest Wits and Kaizer Chiefs, and coach Eric Tinkler is confident about their chances in the Free State, even if he remains mindful of the threat Celtic poses at home.

"I have to work hard. Celtic is a tough draw, tough draw away from home, so we've got to be extremely focused and stick to our principles both defensively and offensively," Tinkler said.

"We've got to remain humble because there's no guarantees in this. So they are going to be highly motivated, they know what we've done to Wits and Chiefs.

"They're going to come prepared so we need to match them in all areas if we want to go to the next round."