Barker feels Stellies ‘fought fire with fire’ against the Rockets

Andre de Jong scored the winning goal for Stellenbosch in their DStv Premiership clash against TS Galaxy on Sunday night. | BackpagePix

Andre de Jong scored the winning goal for Stellenbosch in their DStv Premiership clash against TS Galaxy on Sunday night. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 23, 2024



Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker hailed the fighting spirit of his players after their tense and dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win over TS Galaxy at the Mbombela Stadium on Sunday.

The youthful Maroons overturned a 1-0 deficit at half-time and emerged winners in their clash against the high-flying Rockets, after match-winning goals from fullback Fawaaz Basadien and midfielder Andre de Jong.

Andre de Jong scored the winning goal for Stellenbosch in their DStv Premiership clash against TS Galaxy on Sunday night. | BackpagePix

Afterwards, Barker could not conceal his admiration for the team and said: “We fought fire with fire tonight, dug deep and showed tremendous character.

“It was a massive performance at the end of a week in which we played two top-six clubs away and collected four points.

“I told my boys at half-time to up the intensity and they did. Given the strength of Galaxy at home I would have settled for a point, so to get all three is fantastic.”

Stellenbosch have sounded a warning to the chasing pack that the one CAF Champions League spot that is up for grabs will be theirs next season.

Since runaway log leaders, Mamelodi Sundowns will claim the one spot, Stellenbosch, Orlando Pirates, Sekhukhune United and SuperSport United will fight it out for the other spot.

TS Galaxy coach Sead Ramovic confronted the match officials after their clash against Stellenbosch. | Backpagepix

Stellenbosch have reclaimed the No 2 spot in the standings with 43 points. They opened a three-point gap on Pirates.

Galaxy opened the scoring in the match through midfielder Marks Munyai just ahead of the half-time break. Stellenbosch wiped out the deficit through fullback Fawaaz Basadien early in the second half. Before Galaxy could catch their breath, Andre de Jong, the New Zealand-born midfielder, scrambled home from a poorly cleared corner kick, a few minutes later.

The Mbombela-based side was not able to recover from the setback and eventually went down 2-1 in a clash that ended on an acrimonious note.

Towards the end of the match, Galaxy lost their composure after the referee refused to award them a penalty after goalkeeper Sage Stephens crashed into right winger Sphiwe Mahlangu when he attempted to gather the ball.

The assistant referee had, however, spotted a Galaxy player who had strayed offside before the Stephens incident.

Fawaaz Basadien of Stellenbosch is swamped by teammates after scoring the equaliser against TS Galaxy on Sunday in their DStv Premiership clash in Nelspruit. | BackpagePix

Sead Ramovic, the Galaxy manager, went ballistic for a while and had to be restrained by his supporting technical staff. Afterwards, he condemned the state of refereeing in the country.

“I do not want to have these kinds of arguments with referees, but I have been getting upset for two-and-a-half seasons now,” said the German-born Ramovic.

“The standard of refereeing is not good enough and it is killing many teams because club owners are investing a lot of money. In a professional league, the referees have to be professional in their job.”

Barker said Stellenbosch have reached a defining period in their ambitions to finish as runners-up in the DStv Premiership.

While the Winelands club is enjoying a purple patch, its neighbours further down the N1, Cape Town City, cannot land a Premiership win in 2024.

On Sunday, they dropped points yet again away to Polokwane City and had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

City’s top-eight spot is now in danger and coach Eric Tinkler is a worried man.

“It is the nature of the beast. There is a top goalscorer because he’s a good goalscorer but when the top goalscorer is not scoring, it’s because the coach is not getting him to score,” said Tinkler.

“Obviously, it’s a concern. We’re a very ambitious club that wants to achieve things, you know. Now we’ve got to go back, reset then next game against Arrows.”