Pre-match interview | Stellies looking to extend unbeaten run
Stellenbosch FC will be looking to extend a seven match unbeaten run across all competitions when they take on Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. Here are the thoughts of coach Steve Barker ahead of the encounter.
Stellenbosch will take on Kaizer Chiefs in DStv Premiership action at the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It is the 11th meeting between the two clubs across across all competitions. Kick-off is at 17h30 and the match will be televised live on PSL 202.
Steve Barker’s side arrive in Johannesburg with a full squad and on the back of a seven-match unbeaten run.
Stellenbosch FC return to action following the international break with a highly-anticipated encounter against Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium. Steve Barker’s side most recently recorded a 2-0 league win over AmaZulu and will be hoping to continue their form this weekend.
“The mood in camp is upbeat heading into this weekend’s match,” Barker said. “We are obviously in a good space with our current run and we have a big game against Kaizer Chiefs to look forward to. Preparations for the match have gone well and the mood has been good, there’s a lot of bubbliness, enthusiasm and positivity around the squad, which is always good to see.”
Stellies last tasted defeat at the end of January when the team lost 4-1 away to Orlando Pirates and have since embarked on a seven-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, a streak that has given the Maroons confidence heading into the encounter against the Amakhosi.
“I think it has to give you confidence and belief as a team and as a squad,” Barker added. “When you are on a run like this, the confidence is always higher but the key is never to be satisfied with that. We want to continue the run and finish the league in a strong way, starting this weekend. Confidence is high, belief is high and we’ve been working really hard to continue the run that we are on.
You can watch coach Steve Barker’s full pre-match interview below. Be sure to subscribe to the official SFC YouTube channel!
Barker also has the luxury of a full squad to choose from after long-term injury absentee Juan Ortiz, who has been out since the final day of last season following an ACL injury, was cleared to return to action after a period of extensive rehabilitation.
“We’ve been in a good space of late with the majority of the squad being available. Juan Ortiz is the main one that has been out for a while after his ACL injury, but he’s trained really well and worked really hard over the last couple of months and he comes into contention.
“There are a couple of others who were carrying knocks but at least this period was an opportunity for us to let them recover and refresh, and currently we’ve got a full bill of health with everyone raring to get on the field.”
Stellies are also able to call upon the services of Jayden Adams, Olwethu Makhanya, Athenkosi Mcaba, Devin Titus and Antonio van Wyk, who were all part of the South Africa U-23 team which took on Congo during the international break.
“I think it’s massive for us as a football club and for them as players to experience playing for the national team on the continent,” Barker continued. “Hopefully the experience they take from there will continue to see them mature as players, and hopefully one day when we achieve our aim of ours to be playing in the continent, they will bring that experience.
“We are wonderfully proud of them and a lot of them got good minutes in both matches, so we’re keen to have them back but pleased that they were able to represent our country. Unfortunately (the results) weren’t meant to be this time, but we’re still very proud of what they’ve done.”
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Nonetheless, nothing is being taken for granted against a formidable opponent this weekend, with the squad fully focused on putting in a good performance in the hopes of coming away with a positive result.
“It’s important to continue, from an emotional point of view, on being humble and not becoming complacent with the run that we are on, always looking on areas to improve and on becoming a better team than we were in the previous match,” Barker concluded.
“We have been working on that in our preparation for the game, but Chiefs themselves are on a good run. They have also been playing well and have good players all round, goal threats and players with good individual quality, so it goes without saying that we have to play to our full potential.
“We have to do what we do well as a football club, and negate the strengths that they have as a team. We do believe that if we can do that, we have the capability to ask questions of them. It’s going to be one of those games where we’re going to have play very well, both defensively and in attack, and take our chances when they are presented to us.”