Lelethu Skelem knocking on the Stellies door, says Barker
CAPE TOWN – Lelethu Skelem knows all too well how challenging it is to become a Stellenbosch FC first-team regular.
The 21-year-old Stellenbosch-born midfielder hasn’t had a run-on start in the Absa Premiership this year and last featured in the 2-0 win away to Polokwane City in October, the side’s first success of the season.
The Winelands-based outfit have gone on to win a further five games and landed a hat-trick recently.
Skelem played as a forward for coach Steve Barker against Polokwane and was thrust into the same role last week for the Nedbank Cup round of 32 home tie with league rivals Maritzburg United, the outcome decided on penalties after the game at Athlone Stadium ended 2-2 after extra time.
And Skelem scored the second goal to level matters before being subbed, ruling him out from taking one of the spot-kicks. United edged the penalty count 4-3 to advance to the next round.
Will he get a start against SuperSport United on Friday at the Cape Town Stadium (8pm kick-off)? Probably not. First-choice striker Waseem Isaacs, the team’s top goal scorer, is set for a return to duty.
Skelem’s focus is on cashing in when called upon by Barker.
“It’s difficult to crack a spot with so many good players vying for the same position. Everyone’s on form, so I have to get on the same level to have a chance,” said Skelem. “I just have to keep working hard and, when I get my chance, create chances and score to force my way into the reckoning.”
Barker said of Skelem: “Just a bit on his history: he was playing regional football in the Safa SAB League two years ago before we decided to promote him to the National First Division last season. He did well, got some good game time. But obviously in the elite division he’s still young and developing as a footballer.
“He’s got immense talent, so we are very excited about what he can offer the club going forward. Come the younger players, it’s about integrating them at the right time.
He is playing really well of late and is knocking on the door to be starting.”
Mike de Bruyn