Coming off a lengthy break, Stellies up for Maritzburg challenge
CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker isn’t surprised to see Maritzburg United high up on the PSL standings.
That said, he is confident his charges, who have had a two-week break, will be up to the challenge of taking on the Team of Choice at Harry Gwala Stadium today (8pm kick-off), a venue that has seen Maritzburg unbeaten in 17 Friday night games.
“We’ve had two tight games with Maritzburg so far this season, both ending in draws, the last a Nedbank Cup last 32 encounter at Athlone Stadium earlier this month that they ended up winning 5-4 on penalties after being deadlocked at 2-2 after extra time,” said Barker.
“So I think it’s two evenly-matched teams. They are a different proposition at home, they’ve got a good Friday evening record in terms of being unbeaten since 2017, so it is a big challenge for us. We feel based on the previous meetings that we can break that record and get three points provided we play to our potential and apply ourselves correctly.
“The three points would take us to 30, which is a huge step in the right direction and a huge target to hit and we still have seven games to go.”
It's almost time to make our way to Maritzburg 🛫.— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) February 25, 2020
Here's what Assistant Coach @WesleySergel has to say leading up to Friday nights clash againts @MaritzburgUtd.#StellenboschFC #ProudlyStellenbosch #AbsaPrem pic.twitter.com/skXcAmbaE7
Barker had set a pre-season target of 33 points he felt would be enough to avoid of relegation. Stellenbosch, who have won four of their last five league games, are currently in ninth place on the league standings, while Maritzburg, who are on a two-game winning run, are sixth on 33 points.
Maritzburg have a good team, says Barker. He points to their starting line-up that has good quality all-round and singled out Rushine de Reuck as an up-and-coming centre-back.
“Nazeer Allie is another defender with great experience and goalkeeper Richard Ofori is probably one of the top two or three keepers in the country,” said Barker.
Going forward they have players like Thabiso Kutumela who has been scoring goals and doing well for them and Judas Mosemaedi is always threatening up front, while their recent signing Tebogo Tlolane on loan from Orlando Pirates has added some attacking impetus to their team.
“There is also Daylon Claasen who is a real quality player who scored both goals in the 2-1 win over log leaders Kaizer Chiefs last time out.”
Stellies will be banking on their three forwards to do the business in the final third. Waseem Isaacs, Ryan Moon and Iqraam Rayners have combined for 16 of their team’s 21 goals scored to date.
Mike de Bruyn