CAPE TOWN – Iqraam Rayners has been a prolific goal scorer for Stellenbosch FC for the past two seasons, as shown by his 30 goals – 19 of which have been netted in the current National First Division campaign.
Another three would see the 23-year-old equal the record set by Phumelele Bhengu in the colours of the now-defunct Thanda Royal Zulu a few seasons ago.
He gets the chance to match that in Sunday’s final round of matches that sees Stellies at the top of the standings, and needing a home victory over Maccabi FC at Idas Valley Sports Ground (3pm kickoff) to win the league title and automatic promotion to the Premiership.
“Iqraam has been a big player for us for two years, and he’s going to be with the club for years to come,” says coach Steve Barker.
“The big clubs chasing him might as well throw in the towel; he’s on a contract and has no intention of leaving. We’re on the brink of competing in the PSL next season, and if we end up there, he’s going to be one of the players to watch with his pace and vision.
“We signed him from Santos as a right back last season, and here he is doing the business for us in front of goal with his pace and technical skills.
“He knows how to score goals with his movement towards defenders and ability to spot gaps. He also provides assists, and takes our free kicks and corners.
“We’re talking the complete package. And he hasn’t let his success go to his head. All he wants to do is be part of the squad aiming to make it into the elite league of South African football.
“That journey to the top-flight has been two years in the making. We’re now on the cusp of reaching our goal. The final step is to beat Maccabi, a side that hit good form at just the right moment to dodge potential relegation.”
Gates will open at 13:30. As previously communicated, the Match is SOLD OUT. Those with tickets are encouraged to come early to enjoy all the action.... Including the buildup to kickoff.— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) May 4, 2019
If Stellies lose to the league rookies in front of their adoring fans, and nearest rivals Royal Eagles, who they lead by two points, win at relegation-threatened Ubuntu Cape Town, they drop to second on the table.
That will secure a place in the promotion-relegation playoffs that will be contested by the second and third-placed teams from the NFD teams, and the 15th team from the PSL.
The winners of the mini-league (home and away matches) will be the second team promoted to the top-flight.
“The boys are ready to deliver the goods,” said Barker.
“No change in the way we are going to play. Just want the players to stay calm, enjoy the moment and do what they’ve been doing all season long.”
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) and Ajax Cape Town are locked in a battle for third spot, only separated by goal difference.
The fourth-placed Urban Warriors, who lost their top-flight status last season, will be watching on with interest to see whether the PSL will deduct three points from third-placed TTM for not fielding two under-23 players at all times in a recent game against TS Sporting. They won that game 3-0.