Stellies haven’t given up on signing Gullit

Steve Barker. | BackpagePix

Steve Barker. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 20, 2024


Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker has not shut the door on signing former Netherlands youth international defender Maxim Gullit, despite the 22-year-old having stopped training with the Winelands club.

The son of Dutch legend Ruud Gullit spent several weeks with the Carling Cup champions in the Western Cape with the hope of securing a DStv Premiership contract. But after considering his options within his current squad, Barker claimed the timing was just not right to sign up the Dutch youngster.

Steve Barker. | BackpagePix

“I think he is a quality football player, obviously with the pedigree that he has, and is a really good technical footballer,” Barker told the media at the Nedbank Cup quarter-final draw.

“But we already have fulfilled our foreign quota for the season and we have five centre backs for the season. It was an initial look and come the end of the season we’ll see what transpires in the market and there is a possibility we could invite him for pre-season again, so it’s not over yet.”

Stellies have, though, recently released two influential players, Darrel Matsheke and Kgaogelo Sekgota, due to ill-discipline, which sent out a clear statement of the team’s culture and value systems they are trying to build at the Danie Craven Stadium.

It did not matter that Matsheke, the former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder, had won two player-of-the-match awards in 13 matches, and will forever be in the Stellies history books as the player that scored the winning penalty in the shoot-out in December’s Carling Knokcout Cup final, to help the club lift its first major trophy.

“It is about professionalism. We can be successful as a club, but there will always be obstacles in your way, whether it’s the opposition, injuries or lack of discipline,” Barker said.

“It’s my role as the head coach of the club to prepare and plan for these obstacles, or if need be, take away any issues that might get bigger and we need to do so for the best of the club.”

Looking ahead to the Nedbank Cup quarter-final tie against Gavin Hunt’s SuperSport United, Barker knows it will be yet another stern test of their credentials.

He does, however, believe Stellies are on the cusp of completing a spectacular season, having already claimed the Carling Cup and being in the midst of a club record 17-game unbeaten run with Barker’s team last tasting defeat against Mamelodi Sundowns back in September last year.

“It is a tough game,” Barker said. “SuperSport are a really good team.

“They have a good cup pedigree and a coach who has won trophies. They also have players within their squad who have won cup competitions.

“We have already faced them three times this season and fortunately we were able to get past them in the MTN8 quarter-final. They beat us at home in the league and we got a draw away, so the games have been tight and really close. I expect a similar type of match in the quarter-finals.

“To beat a team like SuperSport, you know they are good defensively in certain areas, and conversely you have to ask them questions.

“I think looking at the season, there are still a lot of league matches to go, but having done well in the two cup competitions already, we have a lot to gain and nothing to lose. We have to go out there and enjoy it and express ourselves.”