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All DStv Premiership clubs can learn a lesson or two from Stellenbosch FC

FILE - Stellenbosch FC head coach Steve Barker. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

FILE - Stellenbosch FC head coach Steve Barker. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published May 16, 2022

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Durban — Royal AM have rightfully attracted praise for being one of the surprise packages this season while Stellenbosch FC’s heroics have quietly gone unnoticed.

If one thing is certain, a lot of clubs can learn from Stellies and the way that they have stuck with coach Steve Barker through thick and thin, allowing the tactician to grow and implement his style on the players.

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The Western Cape side were in the relegation dogfight last season and only avoided the drop by two points. It’s safe to say that most clubs in the Premiership would have sacked him due to their “fickle” nature. Barker has been in charge of his club since 2017 and is now the league’s longest serving coach.

ALSO READ: It was a massive day for the club, says Stellies’ Steve Barker after hammering Sundowns

Stellies have bore the reward of sticking with Barker through difficult times. The club’s players have learnt from the hard lessons they learnt last term and the club heads into their last game of the season against Cape Town City with a chance of claiming third place which would earn them the right to play in next season’s CAF Confederation Cup.

The Cape derby will also be interesting for Stellies as they will potentially have to ruin City’s chances of finishing second and qualifying for the CAF Champions League. Should City play in the Champions League next season, they will be the first ever club from the Western Cape to play in Africa’s Premier Club competition.

A player who has pulled the strings for Stellies this season is forward Ashley Du Preez. The attacker tormented Sundowns’ defence last weekend by bagging a brace in his club’s 3-0 win over the league Champions. The defeat was Masandawana’s first home league defeat of the season.

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There is no doubt that the 24-year-old has now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he should be included in Hugo Broos’ next Bafana Bafana squad. Du Preez’s positional awareness and pace has caused problems for opposition defences in the league this season and it is hardly surprising that he has been linked with a potential move to the Gauteng giants this off season.

Another player who has been solid for Stellies this season is goalkeeper Sage Stephens. The keeper also quietly played a key role in the club’s win over Sundowns as the heavyweights could have easily taken the league early on had he not withstood their onslaught on his goal. Had Masandawana taken the lead early on, the entire game could have gone in another direction.

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Stephens has also made a case to be a backup option in the next Bafana Bafana squad to regular first-choice option and captain Ronwen Williams.

@eshlinv

IOL Sport

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