Home Sport Stellenbosch need their big three to come to the party in semi-final

Stellenbosch need their big three to come to the party in semi-final

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Stellenbosch FC goalkeeper Sage Stephens. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane, African News Agency (ANA)

Stellenbosch must give their all against Richards Bay in the Carling Knockout semi-final on Saturday if they are to make up for losing the last two successive semis in knockout competitions.

But while that will require a collective effort, soccer writer Mihlali Baleka looks at three players that could win the match for Stellies in uMlazi.

IQRAAM RAYNERS – Striker

Rayners will be the focal point for Stellies against Richards Bay, given that he bagged the man-of-the-match awards in the last two matches and walked away with a cheque of R200,000.

Rayners is silky and lethal in front of goal. But it’s his speed and ability to position himself that makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest.

And having shown that he can gobble up the pitch in the last two games, scoring two goals, he’ll have to redouble his efforts against the Natal Rich Boyz.

After all, not only is another cheque of R100 000 up for grabs but a spot in the final for Stellies as well. And like any other player, Rayners will tell you that ‘collective wins mean more’.

SAGE STEPHENS – Goalkeeper

Do not take your eyes off the importance of goals in knockout matches. But clean sheets are equally important as teams who keep things solid at the back don’t lose games.

Stephens has been that rock for Stellies this season. He has kept nine clean sheets, and conceded 12 goals across 16 matches.

His importance was also shown by coach Steve Barker this week as he rested him against Cape Town Spurs on Tuesday because he was a yellow card away from being suspended for tomorrow.

Stephens, though, will know that he has his job cut out for him as he’ll need to step up should the match go to the lottery of penalty kicks after 180 minutes.

JAYDEN ADAMS – Attacker

Adams has been the link between the midfield and Rayners for this Stellies team this season. And that didn’t go unnoticed as he got his maiden Bafana call-up for the World Cup qualifiers. And despite not getting a cap in those qualifiers, Adams’ coach and his teammates will need him to bring his international experience to the team tomorrow.

It’s also matches like these where heroes are born and noticed. And in Adams’ case, he’ll know Bafana coach Hugo Broos has started the draft the final squad he’ll select for next year’s Afcon.

So, Adams must ensure that he continues linking up play, while being alert for any scoring chances as goals – again – will determine whether they reach the final or not.

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