There was some fighting talk from Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker, who declared his team lost the battle but not the war after visitors Orlando Pirates ran out 2-1 winners in Sunday’s MTN8 semi-final first leg at the Athlone Stadium.
THERE was some fighting talk from Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker, who declared his team lost the battle but not the war after visitors Orlando Pirates ran out 2-1 winners in Sunday’s MTN8 semi-final first leg at the Athlone Stadium.
Ten-man Stellenbosch battled bravely to defend a 1-0 lead after Ivorian defender Ismael Toure scored an epic header in first-half injury-time, very much against the run of play.
Stellenbosch had earlier suffered a monumental setback when their central defender Thabo Moloisane was red-carded in the 33rd minute.
In the second half Stellenbosch buckled under the pressure and Pirates’ Zakhele Lepasa and Deon Hotto scored away goals that will give the Buccaneers a massive edge in the second leg.
‘We applied ourselves’
“When you play against a good team like Pirates, it makes it very difficult (to play with a player less),“ said Barker.
“We applied ourselves to get a goal just before the break and that gave us something to hold onto at half-time.
“Up to the time they scored their first goal, we controlled the situation well and didn’t give them too many chances. The tactical commitment and the tactical discipline of the team worked well and they were not creating too many opportunities.
“It was unfortunate that the back-post goal by Lepasa made it 1-1 but I still felt that it was not the worst result to end the game, considering that we were down to 10 men.
“To concede late meant that it made the task tougher but it is not over. We lost today’s battle but we have not lost the war.
“We’ll have to go there, be brave and courageous to get something out of that second-leg game in Orlando.
“I can’t see a reason why we can’t achieve that objective.”
‘They were better than us’
Barker’s opposite number Jose Riveiro could not hide his excitement afterwards. “I am so happy with the result, considering at the start, they were better than us,” said Riveiro.
“I was very happy for the (Cape) fans that we could win a game here, because it does not happen too often.
“I must say the (Stellenbosch) red card also played a role but I am proud of the way the team played.
“In the second half, we did everything to control the game very well, although he had to deal with a couple of (Stellenbosch) transitions.
“We have a lot of talented players and all are well educated in football. We have a helluva lot of talent up front.”
The second leg will be played at Orlando Stadium on September 24.