Underestimate Chiefs slayers Milford at your peril, Steve Barker tells Stellenbosch FC

“Durban has always been good to us, and we do have some players from there,” said Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker. Photo: BackpagePix

“Durban has always been good to us, and we do have some players from there,” said Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 15, 2024


Stellenbosch FC have momentum on their side, but must avoid complacency.

That is the warning from their coach Steve Barker as they head off to KZN to play out-of-form Milford FC in a Nedbank Cup last-16 clash at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, near Durban tonight (7pm kick-off).

Stellenbosch last suffered a defeat in September last year, whereas Milford – despite defeating Kaizer Chiefs two weeks ago – are hovering just above the National First Division relegation zone.

The KwaZulu-Natal-based team have lost three of their last five matches, and have failed to score in four of their last five matches.

“I’m well aware of this type of match (against the lower-tier sides),” said Barker.

“We experienced it against Pretoria Callies (a First Division side) already this season. It was a tough match that could have gone either way.

“It is important that we are not complacent and don’t underestimate the opposition because if we do, it will be at our peril.

“For them (Milford), when you are playing in the lower division, there is no real pressure, and you have nothing to lose (against higher-ranked teams).

“You’re on television and the occasion gives you a lift, and it’s an opportunity for the players to showcase their abilities.

“We’re excited to once again be involved in a cup competition. It is always exciting, and the Nedbank Cup is a massive trophy to play for. It’s the cup of dreams.

“It is nice to see teams like Milford FC reach this stage of the tournament after a giant-killing act in the previous round of the Nedbank.”

Barker is undaunted by the challenges of playing a cup game away from home.

Last season, Stellenbosch were crowned inaugural Carling Knockout Cup winners without playing a single home game at any stage of the competition.

Barker said the team have enjoyed success in Durban in the past, and the crowd support has been good.

“We’re back on the road again. We’ve had a bit of a breather from travelling (in the Premiership), so we’re looking forward to travelling for the Milford match,” said Barker.

“Durban has always been good to us, and we do have some players from there. When they play in Durban, families come and support them. We like travelling to Durban.

“It is a nice place to be. And it’s a nice stadium to play at. It’s been a good hunting ground for us.”

Milford FC assistant coach Nkululeko Buthelezi said the focus at training this week was getting the players to perform to the best of their abilities.

If the players succeed in that regard tonight, Milford will be able to inflict a defeat on Stellenbosch for the first time since September 2023.

“We are focusing only on the performance of the players. If players play well, then we can look forward and grow as a team,” said Buthelezi.

Buthelezi will be able to play his best XI because Milford have no injuries or suspensions to deal with.

The Cape Winelands side will be out-and-out favourites as they are the reigning Carling Knockout champions, and are also doing well in the Premiership, sitting at No 4 on the log.