Stellies’ Champions League miss a bitter bill for Barker

Coach vows to take Confederation Cup seriously after final day flop

Neville Khoza Journalist
Somila Ntsundwana of Richards Bay dribbles past Thabo Moloisane of Stellenbosch in their DStv Premiership match in Umlazi, Durban, on Saturday.
Somila Ntsundwana of Richards Bay dribbles past Thabo Moloisane of Stellenbosch in their DStv Premiership match in Umlazi, Durban, on Saturday.
Image: Darren Stewart

While Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker admits to being disappointed to have missed out on the CAF Champions League qualification, he promised his side will take the Confederation Cup seriously.

Stellies lost out in the second spot finish in the DStv Premiership when they lost 2-1 to Richards Bay on the final day on Saturday, finishing second with Orlando Pirates replacing them.

They are tied on 50 points, but Pirates superior goal difference saw them finish second and qualify for the Champions League to join Mamelodi Sundowns.

Stellies will be joined by Sekhukhune United in the Confederation Cup next season.

“I think the reason is within five years of being promoted to the Premiership and having a season like we have had. I think it’s done through a really good foundation, solid leadership, solid management and a lot of preparations and planning,” Barker said.

“That [preparations for the Confederation Cup] has started. We have had several meetings in terms of dealing with logistics from a financial point of view, from the squad point of view and what we will require.

“We just don’t want to go there and not be competitive. We want to be competitive. We back ourselves to be competitive there.

“We are mindful and we have learned that it is never easy. We will do enough preparations and enough homework and we will equip the squad to be enough to do well both in Africa and at home.”

Barker added that they cannot allow their disappointment to distract them from what they achieved this season as a club after finishing third, winning the Carling Cup and their Diski team winning the league title.

“As a club, we won the Diski Challenge title, we won the cup you make Africa, so I can’t allow the last four games to distract what we have done since the beginning of the season,” he said.

“We have to look back and be proud of what we have achieved. If we get in this position again, there are the lessons learned in the last few months. I think we have learned some lessons and we will deal differently again.”

Stellies had a poor finish, losing three of their last four matches and drawing the other and Barker feels his side failed to cope with fatigue.

“I think fatigue, mental and physical sort of strain on the players, it’s the position that we are not used to being in. So it was a different type of pressure, it’s a good pressure. It is a pressure that we must embrace and hopefully, going forward, we can continue in this vein.”

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