Cape Town — After a week where the university town has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Stellenbosch FC and Cape Town City will be hoping to provide some positive inspiration in the iKapa derby at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday.
It has been a splendid season for both Western Cape teams with City looking to secure second spot on the DStv Premiership table that will ensure participation in the CAF Champions League for the first time, while Stellenbosch are riding equally high in fifth place with a spot in the MTN8 already guaranteed.
And unlike other derbies around the world that are often the touchpaper for irrational fanaticism these two sides are actually quite chummy with each other. This is partially due to the relative infancy of the derby — Stellenbosch FC are only in their third DStv Premiership season — and the fact that the real bad blood in the Mother City is actually between City and National First Division side Cape Town Spurs due to a long-standing family dispute.
The current derby is more of a celebration for Cape football and the opportunity to show youngsters in the region that the opportunity to play professional football is on their doorstep.
“Off the field we do get along very well. We spend time with their staff, we play plenty of friendlies, so there is a friendship among the teams off the field. For Cape Town City and ourselves to be in that top bracket is really good for Cape Town football and the region,” Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker said.
“There is a massive amount of talent in the Western Cape and it provides an opportunity for them to play for PSL teams close to home. I think it will inspire a lot of younger players, especially a team like us that are new to the PSL. Hopefully it can inspire young players to play for City and Stellenbosch, and I am hoping that it will be a wide variety of players, crossing all barriers. It is heartening to drive past a (traditionally rugby-playing) school like Paul Roos and see how many of the kids are playing football at break time, and hopefully by both teams doing well it can create a bigger pool that the region deserves.”
City coach Eric Tinkler echoed his counterpart Barker’s sentiments, while prioritising that it is critically important that the Cape teams are successful in order for the young talent in the region to prosper.
“If you look around the PSL, then you will see plenty of Capetonians playing in teams across the league. It has always been a province that is blessed with lots of football wealth, and obviously with the success of our teams the more successful those youngsters are going to become,” Tinkler said.
“It makes it a lot easier to give young players an opportunity when you are successful as a team because when the confidence is collectively high of the squad, it is easier for me to throw in a youngster because I know the collective is going to carry him.”
Barker will be hoping that it’s his youthful attacking duo of Ashley du Preez and Jayden Adams will provide the inspiration in the derby, while Tinkler will most unlikely unleash his rookies Taahir Goedeman, Mogamat May, Jaeden Rhodes and Patrick Fisher later in the game to make the crucial difference.