Nelspruit - One of the more interesting sideshows in South Africa’s do-or-die 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier meeting with Sierra Leone at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday will involve the chief goal-scorers for either side.
With both countries in need of a victory, it should be a fascinating battle in Mpumalanga and the winner might just be decided by who comes out on top between South Africa’s Katlego Mphela and Mohamed Bangoura from Sierra Leone. Aside from the fact that both sides rely heavily on their star forwards, there is another connection too that is likely to have Mphela, especially, fired-up.
The Mamelodi Sundowns star was hoping for a move to Scottish Premier League outfit Glasgow Celtic and had a trial with The Hoops in July, even playing 45 minutes in a pre-season friendly against English Premiership Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In the end, Celtic decided against signing the man who has scored an impressive 21 goals in 42 games for Bafana. And just weeks later they brought in Bangoura from AIK in Sweden instead, believing he was a better option.
It is against that back-drop that Mphela will be eager to prove a point on Saturday as he hangs on to the hope of winning a move away from Chloorkop to Europe in January. Goals at international level are what will aid that dream, though he can also point to fine start in the Premier Soccer League this season as evidence of his form.
Bangoura has endured a tougher time of late, starting just one match for Celtic so far this season to go with three substitute appearances. He has yet to get off the mark, but remains the number one threat for South Africa with his pace and ability to score goals from nothing.
There will be personal glory for whoever does come out on top, but also, possibly, the knowledge they scored the goals that lifted their side to the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations finals.