Home Sport Barker urges Stellenbosch to push for win against Sundowns

Barker urges Stellenbosch to push for win against Sundowns

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Hosts Stellenbosch will be focused on the race for second place, and, currently, they occupy second place with a one-point lead over Orlando Pirates.

Steve Barker, head coach of Stellenbosch FC. Picture: Reinhardt Hamman, BackpagePix

Herman Gibbs

Stellenbosch FC’s highly-anticipated match against reigning Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday (3pm kick-off) has been moved to the austere Athlone Stadium, which has fond memories for the Danie Craven Stadium-based side.

The PSL, the guardians of the Premiership, have learnt a lesson from last month’s Nedbank Cup semi-final between Stellenbosch and Sundowns at the Winelands venue.

After the final whistle, there was a pitch invasion and broken fences around the Danie Craven Stadium.

The switch of venue is a good omen for Stellies. It was at the Athlone Stadium that Sundowns last lost a match against domestic opposition when Stellenbosch inflicted a 2-1 defeat on the Tshwane giants in last year’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final.

This time, however, the teams will have very different agendas for the match, which will be the headline encounter for the weekend’s penultimate round of the Premiership season, with all eight fixtures kicking off simultaneously at 3pm across the country on Saturday.

Sundowns, however, are the only one of 16 teams that still have two Premiership matches to play this season, and they will be back in action on Tuesday evening against TS Galaxy.

Hosts Stellenbosch will be focused on the race for second place, and, currently, they occupy second place with a one-point lead over Orlando Pirates.

Champions Sundowns are on a mission to go through the entire league season unbeaten. They need just one more win to eclipse the PSL points record (71) for a 30-game season.

Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker noticed a buzz at this week’s training sessions after four players – Jayden Adams, Thabo Moloisane, Iqraam Rayners and Devin Titus – were all named in the preliminary Bafana Bafana squad for next month’s 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers against Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

The youthful Stellies have had a rough ride of late as fatigue set into their ranks, and their 20-match unbeaten run in the league was ended by Swallows last week. They also drew 0-0 at home to AmaZulu.

Barker and his players have set their hearts on playing in one of the two CAF inter-club competitions for the first time in their short history next season. Hence, they are desperate to beat champions Sundowns, who have played 27 league matches this season, without suffering defeat.

“The loss against Swallows was a blow, but we’ve got to keep at it – and there’s no reason we can’t beat Sundowns on home turf,” said Barker. “It is a tough task to beat Sundowns. They’re a good team, but I thought we did enough in the semi-final to get a sense for this match.

“The key is to get back the energy and the spark and push for two more matches.

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