Chiefs' link sees striker's form dip considerably

Barker tells Skelem not to rob Stellies with below-par showing

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Steve Barker of Stellenbosch FC.
Steve Barker of Stellenbosch FC.
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Image

Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker has urged striker Leletu Skelem, who's heavily linked to Kaizer Chiefs, to up his game in order for him to return to the starting XI.

In their 2-1 defeat to league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns over the weekend, Skelem started his fifth consecutive match on the bench, coming on to feature in the last 13 minutes, where Stellenbosch scored via Stanley Dimgba. Gaston Sirino and Peter Shalulile netted for the visitors.

The 22-year-old Skelem is said to be on Chiefs' radar for next season. The Amakhosi rumour appears to have unsettled the Stellies ace. However, Barker has insisted they don’t pay attention to such rumours, urging Skelem to work hard to regain his spot in the starting line-up.

“We don’t let noise get too much in the way of things. Leletu has got to stay focused, keep working hard. He’s committed to the club. He just needs to continue working to get back to the [starting] XI,’’ said Barker of Skelem.

Without elaborating, Barker hinted Skelem has recently been faced with some personal challenges. The Stellies trainer added that as a club they will support the SA Under-23 international until the end. Skelem boasts one goal and three assists from 17 league games thus far.

“I think firstly, it’s managing the personthat’s important before the player. Leletu has had a lot of challenges of late, so we’re here to support him,’’ noted the Stellenbosch coach.

“He’s our player until the end of the season and beyond. So it’s just about giving him the confidence, to keep developing, to keep growing and become a footballer we know he can be for us.’’

As they conceded the second goal very late in the stoppage time, Barker conceded the Downs defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, even though he was proud of his troops for their character against the defending league champs.

“Results like these are difficult to take, but we have to be proud of the commitment shown by our players. We played some quality football," said Barker.

 

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