CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC are ready to give their all as they push hard for promotion to the PSL.
Cape Town City may be joined in the top flight next season by Stellenbosch, the current leaders of the NFD.
And there is the possibility of a third club from the Mother City in the PSL as well in the form of Ajax Cape Town, provided the Urban Warriors, who lost their top-flight status last season, lock down third place in the NFD and emerge from the season-ending three-team promotion/relegation playoffs as victors.
Stellenbosch have been the form team throughout the campaign and now only have to win their final game of the season against league rookies Maccabi FC on home turf at the Idas Sports Ground on Sunday (3pm kick-off) to retain top spot and clinch automatic promotion to the PSL.
Stellenbosch won the corresponding fixture 2-0 in December.
“We’re expecting a tough game,” said Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker. “We know that we’re a win away from winning the league and automatic promotion to the elite league of South African football.
“Now we’re so close to achieving that, but for now our only focus is on what lies ahead. We want to give our loyal supporters a top showing and their support will help big time.”
Barker, a former Wits midfielder, guided the University of Pretoria to the NFD title in 2011-12.
The former AmaZulu coach joined Stellenbosch in 2017 as an assistant coach and after being promoted to head coach, began moulding a squad into a capable unit made up of experienced hands and youngsters from the Winelands area where the club has heavily invested in.
With the right training facilities and own home stadium, it was only a matter of time before Stellenbosch started to flex their muscles.
Barker’s boys hit the ground running this season and went on to enjoy the view from the top of the NFD standings for four months.
Then came a dip in form which saw an 11-point lead over the chasing pack almost evaporate.
But Stellenbosch have righted the ship and set course for the finishing line, and look set to go all the way.
Back-to-back wins sees Barker’s charges holding a two-point lead over Royal Eagles going into their 30th and final fixture.
Fourth-placed Ajax will finish third if they win way at fifth-placed Mbombela United and third-placed Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila lose at home to seventh-placed Richards Bay.
As for the other two Cape NFD clubs, there is everything to play for.
Twelfth-placed Cape Umoya United need a point away at Tuks to hold onto their second-tier status, while second from bottom Ubuntu Cape Town’s hopes of avoiding relegation hang in the balance.
They entertain Eagles and defeat will relegate them to the ABC Motsepe League along with bottom-placed Witbank Spurs.
Mike de Bruyn