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Coke Cup Preview - Celtic vs Swallows 19/10/04
For Bloemfontein Celtic, the match against Moroka Swallows on Saturday, 23 October, marks a welcome back into the sizzling and glamorous world of the Coca-Cola Cup.

Since being relegated at the end of the 2000/2001 season, Phunya Sele Sele have had to watch from the sidelines as South Africa's top clubs fought it out for the top cup competition.

Celtic are not total newcomers to the world of the Coca-Cola Cup, having participated in the previous Coca-Cola Cup competition in the early 1990's. Their showing there was not particularly impressive and in most cases the first round marked the end of their interest in the competition.

Since winning the First Division and coming back into the elite league, Celtic have not found the going particularly easy and registered their first win at the end of September against Manning Rangers. That, however, must have served as a confidence-booster for the Free State outfit and they are now hoping to take this into the Coca-Cola Cup.

However, their opponents in the first round match are not to be taken lightly, as Swallows have firmly re-established themselves amongst the leading clubs in South African professional soccer.

The one thing that is missing for the Birds are regular trophies and what better competition than the Coca-Cola Cup for coach Gavin Hunt and his team to add to the trophy collection.

Last year Swallows upset Sundowns in the first round of the competition, but were then - in turn - stunned by the eventual finalists Silver Stars. In the two previous competitions, the first match the Birds played also turned out to be their last, as AmaZulu beat them 1-0 in the 2001/2002 season and Kaizer Chiefs ousted them a year later.

There can however, be few who would argue that since Hunt has taken over at Swallows, the club is not only one of the most successful, it is also one of the most exciting to watch.

It is not surprising that the Birds lie third in the table, a four points behind leaders Sundowns, with a game in hand. With their brand of exciting soccer, they have managed to impress soccer fans throughout the country and they are now hoping to do the same in the Coca-Cola Cup.

And that is something that fans in the stadium in Bloemfontein will be looking for.

Apart from the action on the field there will be more for the fans. Those who arrive at games early - between the time the gates open (10am) and 1.30pm - will receive a free 340 ml cup of Coca-Cola.

Further, to entice those generally interested fans to come to the stadium and experience Coca-Cola Cup action live, the sponsors have arranged free bus transport operating from the Hoffman Square from 9am to 1pm at half hour internals.  Buses will take the same fans back again after the game.

A particularly popular aspect of previous competitions has been the Phashasha seats, which are Coca-Cola couches where fans can watch the game in comfort, get served snacks and Coke products and mix with celebrities. The Phashasha Seats will be set up in Bloemfontein and those who are able to go to the games must listen to Metro FM Sports Hour between 6 - 7pm on Thursday, 21 October and can enter the competition to win tickets. 

Goals will be on the main agenda for both teams. Not only to help them win through to the next round, but also to boost the coffers of 6 identified HIV/Aids Orphanages in the Goals for HIV/Aids programme. For every goal scored R10 000 will go to 6 select Orphanages.

These are just some of the innovations introduced by Coca-Cola this season. "The Coca-Cola Cup would not be the same if we didn't introduce something new every year," said Firoze Bhorat, Marketing Asset Manager, Coca-Cola Southern Africa.

"Our aim is to keep the competition sizzling hot and encourage Flair. To achieve this we need to keep everyone excited and entertained and go home with a memorable account of soccer brought by Coca-Cola."

Tickets to the game can be bought through Computicket at R20 for Adults and R10 for Juveniles.

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