Stellenbosch FC move up to 7th on the Dstv Premiership standings after having played 10 fixtures thus far – better off, then where they were at this stage of last season’s campaign.
Head Coach Steve Barker said, “I think it would be too early to talk about a top 8 finish but that certainly is the target. I don’t see why we can’t achieve that, but the goal has always been to be better than we were last season and so far, we’re on track. We’ve just got to continue working hard, continue to trust our processes, and continue to be consistent- by doing that with determination, resilience and commitment- we’ll reap the fruits of our labour come the end of the season.”
Stellenbosch FC’s last fixture saw a 1-1 draw against a struggling Black Leopards this past Friday at the Danie Craven Stadium. It was Leopards who created the games opening chances asking questions of the SFC backline who were without regular starters in that of Robyn Johannes and Zitha Macheke.
Stellenbosch FC’s injury woes were worsened when left-wing back Marc Van Heerden was stretchered off in the 9th minute and rushed to a near-by hospital. Van Heerden later going to twitter after being seen to wrote, “Thanks for the well wishes. Just a little dislocation. A man will be back ASAP.”
The sustained pressure by a desperate Leopards saw the team from the North miss countless opportunities to take the lead but were later rewarded a penalty in the 30th minute after substitute Kristopher Bergman fouled his man in the area. Former Stellenbosch FC forward Ovidy Karuru made no mistake from the spot to put his side into the lead with a well taken penalty kick. Stellenbosch FC trailing at the break, a goal down, and some work to do in the 45’ to come.
At the half-way mark, on came Phatutshedzo Nange who replaced Granwald Scott in the Stellenbosch midfield, proving to be just the difference the ‘Maroon and Gold’ needed. In the 54th minute it was the substitute P. Nange who picked up the ball outside of the box area and drilled one past the Leopards goalkeeper, King Ndlovu, rippling the back of the net and sending his teammates into a frenzy with what was a spectacular equalizer.
“You can’t make mistakes like that you know? Giving the ball away to player like Nange- he is a smart player, with incredible technique, it was just really poor from us, especially after not finishing the 5 or so chances we had on the other end”, said Black Leopards Head Coach Dylan Kerr.
One-all the score and that is how it ended with Stellenbosch moving to 7th on the log and their next fixture away to a resurging Bloemfontein Celtic.
SFC Assistant Coach Wesley Sergel said, “Bloemfontein Celtic are a tough team. Recently in the Nedbank Cup Final, Celtic are a difficult team to come up against, especially at home. It will be a difficult trip but an opportunity for the players to test themselves again, and an opportunity to bounce back, so we’ll go there with confidence and we’ll look to bring back the points.”
A notable mention is that Stellies born, Deano Van Rooyen picked up his first ever Premiership ‘Man of the Match’ (MOTM) award after a stellar performance from the right-full-back.
According to Sergel, Van Rooyen not only picking up this week’s MOTM award, but also winning his teammates vote for MOTM after their 2-0 win over TTM last week Tuesday.