Attention turns to the Cape Derby
Stellenbosch FC will welcome rivals Cape Town City FC to the Danie Craven Stadium on Friday for the eighth edition of the Cape Derby. Here is the summary from Tuesday’s pre-match press conference with Head Coach Steve Barker.
On the weekend’s highly-anticipated derby against Cape Town City…
“The derby is always something to look forward to,” Barker said. “It’s a fixture which from day one when we got promoted to the PSL, we wanted to play and one we look forward to playing. It’s always been a very competitive game between the two teams, both in official matches and in our friendly matches, so there’s no love lost between the two teams on the field of play. We are neighbours in Cape Town representing the Western Cape, but once we get onto the field the players are always excited and up for the task of claim bragging rights. It’s a big fixture for us this coming Friday and it’s obviously no secret that we are searching for a big performance from the team to get us the result we need. We all want to win football games, but this derby is a need to win for us as a football team and as a club. I’m looking forward to an exciting fixture and hoping that the crowd can come out in numbers and support the team, and I’m confident that our players will be ready. They are well prepared and will be putting in a good performance.”
On whether a win against Cape Town City can inspire a return to form…
“I do think so,” Barker added. “Obviously, I’d be very surprised and disappointed if the players weren’t up for the challenge of a derby game because on a Friday night at home under the lights, the stage is set for both teams to come out and perform to their full potential. We have been really competitive in derby matches of late and obviously the situation is a little bit different now, but I am very confident that games like these are opportunities for the team to turn things around. Victory would give us that belief and confidence as a team, so it’s a great opportunity and one that is there to be taken. We have to be up for it, we have to prepare well and we have to be mentally ready for the challenge that lies ahead. Cape Town City are a good team and they have shown that recently by grounding out a couple of results with a couple of late goals to get the three points, so they are a difficult team to play against with a lot of good individual quality. We have to be ready but we also have our own strengths and qualities as a team and that has to come one hundred per cent to the fore on Friday.”
On preparing for the derby with a large, local contingent of young players…
“There are a number of players here who grew up in Stellenbosch. We have a couple of young players; Deano van Rooyen is now a little bit more experienced, but you’ve also got Mervin Boji, Oshwin Andries and Jayden Adams to name just a few from this area, but there are also those who grew up more on the Cape Town side like Devin Titus and Antonio van Wyk. I’m sure it’s something that they are looking forward to, they are Capetonians and it is against Capetonians and one always wants to claim bragging rights in these types of matches. It’s just a case of managing the pressure that comes with it. Results are important for us but it’s about focusing and getting them to focus on their performance because if everyone in the team plays to their potential, does their job and gives a big performance, it will put us in a position to get maximum points. So, it’s about managing expectations and managing the pressure without taking away the excitement and exuberance they have for the game. Hopefully it will be a big crowd for them to showcase their abilities in front of.”
Barker added: “Because of a lack of PSL teams in the Western Cape, I think we are two teams who know each other very well. We often play friendly matches and in December we played each other twice, so both teams know what the other is capable of doing. When it comes to derbies, apart from the technical and tactical preparation, it’s about mindset. We have a mentality here that we don’t lose derbies. So, for me, the preparation is more about staying calm about our situation while having that inner desire deep in our belly and in our soul to approach the game with the right desire. When two teams know each other that well, it’s maybe about making any subtle changes that you can to derail the opposition, but they have some good quality players in their team that we have to be aware of, but more importantly is how we approach the game mentally on Friday. That will be the challenge for us.”
Key fixture information:
Date: Friday, 27 January 2023
Venue: Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
Tickets: R60 for Grand Stand and R40 for Open Stand (available at www.webtickets.co.za or any Pick ‘n Pay outlet)
Parking: Coetzenburg Centre for Grand Stand ticket holders and Welgevallen Fields for Open Stand ticket holders.