Stellenbosch ready for ‘David v Goliath’ battle with Mamelodi Sundowns
CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker knows all about exciting runs in the Nedbank Cup.
Back in 2009, Barker led a youthful University of Pretoria team all the way to the final against Moroka Swallows.
Although the campaign did not ultimately finish in a blaze of glory, AmaTuks claimed some major scalps along the way, including Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic and Ajax Cape Town.
It is for this reason that Barker doesn’t fear the trip this weekend to face triple league champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the first round of this season’s Nedbank Cup, because he knows anyone is capable of a “giant-killing” act.
“I do believe that we can do well against Sundowns,” Barker said.
“The Nedbank Cup is known for giant-killing acts. We also dream of lifting the trophy, and you have to beat the best teams in the competition, so why not now?
“We have to be positive. We are up against a quality team who are good at home, but we can’t go all the way to Pretoria and not have the belief that we can get a result.
“We have to play to our full potential.
"Not many will believe that we can get the result, thus the pressure is on them. Hopefully that means we'll go into this one with courage, bravery and freedom. Our mindset has to be one of belief and if we play to our full potential I believe we could cause an upset."— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) February 1, 2021
“We are looking forward to it. It is a nice team to play against because not many people are expecting us to get a result, so all the pressure will be on Sundowns and not us.
“We can hopefully go there and play with some freedom, some courage, while nullifying the threats they have all over the park.”
It would be frivolous to point out the difference between Sundowns and Stellenbosch in terms of pedigree, play and financial resources available, but the Premiership table does put plenty into perspective. Barker’s team are 18 points adrift of the table-toppers in 11th position.
However, the former AmaTuks coach believes that with a bit more luck and composure in front of goal, the Stellenbosch report card would look much more promising.
He does admit, though, that if his team are to have any chance of progressing to the next round in the nation’s capital, they will have to be much more clinical.
“We know we’re better than what the (Premiership) log shows. We have played consistently better than that.
“I think maybe of the 14 games we’ve played, I think maybe only one-and-a-half games we were outplayed,” the Stellies coach explained.
“We are competitive, and we have shown that if we do take our chances, then we will have every opportunity to win any football game we are in.
“We are disappointed by the soft goals that we have let in have largely been through our decision-making and mistakes. We can’t afford that against a team of Sundowns’ quality.”