Milford FC next hurdle as Stellenbosch FC eye trophy double

Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker and his two top players. striker Iqraam Ryners and goalkeeper Lee Langeveldt talking about their upcoming Nedbank Cup semi final against Sekhukhune at Dance Craven

Following Monday's night's Nedbank Cup last-16 draw, it will be left to Stellenbosch FC to check the march of lower-tier clubs like Milford. Seen here: Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker. Picture : Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 28, 2024


Following three seasons in the top-flight league, Stellenbosch FC have been transformed into a winning machine, and after this season's Carling Knockout Cup conquest, the Nedbank Cup is firmly in their sights.

However, before they can start believing in that idea, there is a small matter of dealing with Milford FC. This Motsepe Foundation Championship side from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal, owned and coached by gynaecologist Xanti Pupuma, emerged as Kaizer Chiefs slayers after winning 5-4 on penalties on Sunday.

Following Monday's night's Nedbank Cup last-16 draw, it will be left to Stellenbosch to check the march of lower-tier clubs like Milford. Other lower-tier clubs in the next round include Maritzburg United, FC Ravens, Hungry Lions, AmaTuks and D'General FC.

The primary driving force behind the Winelands club, owned by Remgro chairperson Johann Rupert, has been Rob Benadi, the club's CEO. Benadi admitted in an interview with Independent Media that he had not been thinking about winning the Nedbank Cup but the idea appealed to him.

Heartbreak serving as motivation

“Now that would be a great story for the club, if we can pick up another trophy this season,” said Benadi. “The heartbreak of last season's semi-final penalty shootout loss will galvanise us this time. Hopefully we will go all the way this time.

“We get further confidence from the fact that we know we can beat any of the 16 remaining teams in the competition.

“The great run of results we are having since last year is very pleasing, especially given the fact that we ‘lost' starting players at the beginning of the season (Junior Mendieta, Ibraheem Jabaar, Olwethu Makhanya and Sibusiso Mthethwa), which made many doubt our team and strategy.”

Last Friday night, Stellenbosch's victory hopes were balanced on a knife edge after Motsepe Foundation Championship side Pretoria Callies held them to a hard-fought 1-1 draw after extra time. Stellenbosch won the resultant penalty shoot-out 4-3.

Go all the way

Coach Steve Barker feels now that they have reached the round of 16, they could go “all the way”.

“The most important thing is to get into the next round, because once you're in the next round there are only 16 teams left. Then there's no reason not to attempt to go all the way in the Nedbank Cup,” said Barker.

Barker said he has placed great emphasis on penalty-taking drills when preparing for cup matches.

“If you don't get that second or third goal, you give the opposition hope and we gave them hope and they (Callies) took their opportunity,” said Barker. “Going to penalties is always a lottery. It can always go either way, but we've been working hard on our penalty shoot-outs after losing a few in the past.

“We've made it a point that we will be as best prepared as we can be for penalties, so went into the shoot-out with confidence. What I'm seeing about the team currently is that we are finding ways to win football matches.”

IOL Sport