SuperSport United on the Hunt as Sage Stephens sticks with Stellenbosch FC

Supersport United head coach Gavin Hunt

FILE - Supersport United head coach Gavin Hunt. Photo: Ayanda Ndamane African/News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 15, 2024

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SuperSport United ‘host’ Stellenbosch FC in a DStv Premiership tie at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday night (7pm kick-off) looking to not only confirm their status as potential challengers to Mamelodi Sundowns’ reign as champions, but also eager to maintain their recent superiority over the Cape Winelands team.

Matsatsantsa a Pitori are currently third in the table with 29 points, the same as second-placed Cape Town City, some nine points behind the Brazilians, who have two games in hand.

Stellies are also there and thereabouts in fourth position, Steve Barker’s team boasting 26 points from 15 matches, and no doubt believing they are in the running for continental football participation.

It makes for a fascinating clash that SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt must be confident of winning, given the recent history between the two clubs.

Stellies have not beaten SuperSport in a league encounter for the past two seasons – the four clashes between the sides having produced two victories for Matsatsantsa, while the others ended in stalemates.

Stellies’ only recent victory over SuperSport was in the MTN8.

As they return to league action following the Africa Cup of Nations-induced break, no doubt the teams will be champing at the bit to get back on the field for competitive football.

Though they are the hosts, Hunt has continuously lamented having to travel all the way to Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium for home matches,

the multiple championship-winning coach being of the view that the travel takes away from SuperSport’s training time.

It is a factor beyond his control, though, with the club management having entered into a deal with the

Polokwane municipality to play some of their matches at the 2010 World Cup venue.

Hunt would thus do well to just focus on coaching and prepare his team for what promises to be a fascinating tie between teams that boast

some exciting youngsters who were impressive in the initial stages of the season.

When they last played at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on December 23, Matsatsantsa enjoyed a goal fest as they beat Orlando Pirates 3-1 – with goals from Shandré Campbell (two) and Bradley Grobler – and nothing will please Hunt more than seeing his team replicate that showing against Stellies.

He would be aware of his team’s Jekyll and Hyde tendencies, though, and prepare them to avoid dishing out showings as poor as the one that saw them end the year with a similar beating at Richards Bay to the one they had dished out to the Buccaneers a few days earlier.

Tomorrow’s encounter kick-starts a full weekend of league fixtures, with the pick of the clashes being Saturday evening’s contest between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld (8pm).

* Meanwhile, Stellenbosch FC announced on Thursday that goalkeeper Sage Stephens has signed a new long-term contract with the club.

Stephens joined the Maroons in 2020, and has since made 86 appearances across all competitions, the most by any goalkeeper in the club’s history.

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to play for Stellenbosch FC, and for the club showing faith in me by extending my contract,” Stephens said on the team website.

“The club is at the point now where the aim is to compete on all fronts, as we showed with our recent Carling Knockout Cup success, and I’m grateful for the chance to continue playing a role in that.

“This is my fourth season at the club, and my goal is to keep my jersey and push for a spot in the national team, while continuing to win more trophies and compete for the league with Stellenbosch FC.”

IOL Sport

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