Stellenbosch FC prepare for three cup finals
Stellenbosch FC face three crucial “cup finals” in the next two weeks that could have a huge bearing on their survival chances this season‚ starting with a home clash against fellow strugglers Baroka FC at the Athlone Stadium on Friday.
That will be followed by two other teams in the relegation mix as they host Black Leopards (January 25) and travel to Polokwane City (February 1).
Win all three and Stellenbosch could virtually be safe from relegation in their maiden season back in the top-flight‚ a huge carrot to be dangled in front of the squad.
And after their impressive 4-1 success away at Highlands Park in their previous game‚ there are signs that they are coming to grips with life in the top-flight.
“The next three fixtures are like cup finals for us and we have to approach it as such‚ it can go a long way in determining where we end up at the end of the season‚” Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker said.
“Coming off a big win we hope that can be a catalyst for better performances going forward.
“As soon as you play teams who are around you it’s critical to get favourable results. Three games‚ nine points; we need a good return. This league has shown me that there are no easy fixtures‚ whether you play number one or number 16‚ you have to perform.”
Barker was relieved with the Highlands win after back-to-back home losses to BidVest Wits (0-2) and Bloemfontein Celtic (1-2) at the start of 2020.
“We knew we had to get the year off to a good start‚ but then we lost the two games against Bloemfontein Celtic and Wits. Highlands away is not an easy fixture‚ they’re notoriously difficult to play against at Makhulong‚ but we went there and came away with the three points‚ so I’m happy.
“It elevated us from the red zone to 11th‚ so just from a mental point of view‚ it was a great result and a great confidence booster.
“I explained to the players that we need to show resilience and character. We need the ability to bounce back after a set-back.”
Because Stellenbosch battled for a settled home ground at the start of the season‚ they have played only seven of their 18 matches in front of their own fans.
And that has resulted in just a single home victory‚ against Orlando Pirates in October‚ and only four goals scored.