Stellenbosch FC have ‘belief, energy’ for the fight after derby win over Cape Town City

Devin Titus celebrates after scoring the decisive goal for Stellenbosch FC against Cape Town City on Tuesday night. Photo: AYANDA NDAMANE Independent Newspapers

Devin Titus celebrates after scoring the decisive goal for Stellenbosch FC against Cape Town City on Tuesday night. Photo: AYANDA NDAMANE Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 7, 2024


For all intents and purposes, Cape Town City FC is the glamour football club in the Western Cape.

They have a flamboyant and experienced owner in John Comitis, have a Bafana Bafana legend as coach in Eric Tinkler, and play their home matches at the glorious former 2010 Fifa World Cup venue, Cape Town Stadium.

In contrast, Stellenbosch FC are very much the rookie upstarts in the DStv Premiership who have earned respect in a short space of time, particularly after claiming their first major silverware this season when they won the inaugural Carling Knockout Cup.

But yet it is Stellies that have been the dominant team in the Western Cape derby for the past four years, as they stretched their record to seven matches without defeat to City on Tuesday evening.

They have taken six valuable points off City, and have the prospect of making that 12 against fellow Mother City team Cape Town Spurs in their next Premiership match.

They are the undoubted rulers of football in the Western Cape as they have routinely painted the province maroon and white.

“We have a mantra that we don’t lose derbies,” coach Steve Barker said after the 1-0 victory over City, courtesy of a Devin Titus first-half goal.

“But it’s difficult to pinpoint (the reasons behind the derby dominance).

“Every single game has been tight, and there have been occasions where we have been fortunate to come away with all the points.

“But when the momentum is on your side and the belief that you can do it ... and when you have that belief, you have the energy for the fight.”

Stellies’ position of dominance, which has seen them surge to second in the Premiership, has been even more remarkable due to them missing a number of senior players in the derby.

Barker had to reshuffle the heart of his defence, with big centre back Ismael Toure ruled out, along with the influential Jayden Adams in midfield.

Barker brought in Athenkosi Mcaba and Darrel Matsheke, and both players were up to the task in holding City goalless on the night.

The Stellenbosch tactician believes the performance of both Mcaba and Matsheke is indicative of the culture of the club, which he believes is the foundation of their success.

“We have created a situation where the depth is quality. The message to our team is that everyone is part of something bigger, and that when given an opportunity, we trust them,” Barker said.

“So, when you lose players of that quality, such as Toure and Jayden’s calmness on the ball, Mcaba and Darrel come in and do a job.

“It is about trust, and you have to step up because next week, it might be someone else.”

Stellies’ next challenge is another derby at home at the Danie Craven Stadium against an improving Cape Town Spurs on Saturday afternoon.

With only goal difference separating the two Western Cape teams on the log this season – Stellies are second and City third – it was a hugely frustrating night for Tinkler.

“It’s the same old, same old against them. They obviously wait for your mistake and then they punish you on the counter-attack,” he said.

“We controlled the game for the first 20 minutes and we did not punish them. We don’t kill them off. We don’t make the right decisions in the right areas.

“We told them it’s going to come, because we know it’s going to come. (Devin) Titus was staying there. (Iqraam) Rayners is staying up there. When you go forward and you don’t take your chances, you have to press to win it back.

“And the rest of your defence is sorted. We only have ourselves to blame.

“The fluidity of our game is not there. We see glimpses. But there was a large part of the game where the connection is not there. We have to sit and analyse properly.”

City have a few days to rectify their mistakes before they head to KwaZulu-Natal to face Royal AM on Sunday.