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mso-ansi-language:EN-ZA;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">– Stellenbosch FC have a date with defending PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Athlone Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm kickoff) - and coach Steve Barker is well aware of the challenge facing his team.
Sundowns come to the Mother City looking for a fourth league win in a row and three points would see the second-placed Brazilians move to 44 points and close the gap on league leaders Kaizer Chiefs to four points with a game in hand over Amakhosi.
Stellenbosch, on the other hand, will be out to improve their 11th-place position, and should the men from the Winelands get the better of their Pretoria-based counterparts who beat them 3-1 in the first round, relegation fears will start to fade away.
But, against a team fresh off being knocked out of the Caf Champions League quarter-finals, a tough game awaits the home side who have battled for consistency since pulling off a hat-trick of wins.
📢 It's our last match at Athlone Stadium this Wednesday and management has decided to drop the pricing of our tickets!
We're taking on @Masandawana
in the #AbsaPrem!
— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) March 9, 2020
“We’re up against a very good team, the most consistent team in South Africa over the past (few) seasons,” said Barker. “I think now they have a lot to play for in the league, being out of the Champions League. They have two games in hand over Chiefs, one being against us, and they obviously see that as an opportunity to close the gap and start challenging. So I expect them to show a bounce-back ability from the weekend, and I have no doubt that they’ll be coming here full of energy to get a result.
“So we know that, but we have our own ambitions also, like wanting to get to 30 points (Stellenbosch currently have 27) as soon as possible, so that’s one step closer for us. We’ve got good home form of late so there’s no reason why we can’t believe and have faith in that we can get a result from this match.”
Whenever Stellenbosch have kept clean sheets most of the time, they have gone on to win matches. But they can’t afford to be conceding easily, like was the case last time out away to Maritzburg United when they lost 3-0. The last line of defence will have to be on their toes to keep out an opponent who has scored six goals in their last three league matchers.