Stellenbosch FC are desperate to avoid defeat against Highlands Park
Stellies have 15 points from 17 games and occupy second-last place on the Absa Premiership standings propped up by Baroka FC on 14.
The top-flight rookies have suffered back-to-back defeats heading into the bout with the Lions of the North, who hold down sixth spot on 23 points.
The previous meeting between the two former National First Division clubs ended in a goalless stalemate at Cape Town Stadium.
Stellies coach Steve Barker wants to see a far more aggressive approach from his charges.
“We’re up against a rival we know well, the goal is to come out with all guns blazing,” he said.
“We’re a gutsy lot, we have shown that from day one. While results haven’t gone our way this year, I feel that we have the armoury to turn things round. We just need to believe more.”
The Western Cape outfit have scored two of their three wins to date on the road, first beating then third-placed Polokwane City and then seeing off Baroka in their final game of 2019.
But things have gone pear-shaped this month for a side that has to be targeting a tad over 30 points come the end of the season.
Failure to do so could result in their exit from the competition. The team that finishes last on the log will be relegated.
Wits handed the men from the Winelands a 2-0 beating last weekend before Bloemfontein Celtic came to the Mother City and recovered from a goal down to claim 2-1 victory on Tuesday.
“We were competitive in both outings but never made our chances count,” Barker said.
“Losing striker Iqraam Rayners to injury hasn’t helped our cause. He’s a big player for us but will be out for three months.
“I also didn’t want to field new signing Granwald Scott because his debut appearance versus Wits was his first action of the season having not made a start for his former club.
“Another new face who will be in contention for a run-on start is Zimbabwe international and former Kaizer Chiefs wing Ovidy Karuru who has a lot to offer going forward.
“And I will be looking for some of our big-name players to deliver big performances.
“We made a lot of signings before the league started and I would like to see these guys rising to the occasion better than before.”
The likes of Robyn Johannes, Marc van Heerden, Ryan Moon and Nkanyiso Zungu can light the spark to ignite a team desperate for point at the very least to ease their plight.
Mike de Bruyn