Stellenbosch Football Club

Barker: We believe we can compete for the MTN 8 trophy

Football - 2023 MTN8 Launch - Supersport Studios - Johannesburg

Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker has revealed that his side has the belief that they can compete for this season’s MTN 8 trophy ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final against SuperSport United.

Stellies’ 2023/24 MTN 8 campaign gets underway this weekend when the club goes head-to-head with SuperSport United at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

The team from the Cape Winelands will be making their second-ever appearance in the competition, having lost to Kaizer Chiefs at the quarter-final stage last time around, and head coach Steve Barker believes his side can go all the way and compete for this year’s trophy.

“In the MTN 8 last season we lost on penalties to Chiefs but we were that close to making a semi-final,” Barker said at the competition’s launch on Thursday. “Similarly, in the Nedbank Cup [last season] we just missed out on making the final after losing out on penalties [to Sekhukhune United].

“Having a young squad who got those tastes of almost getting to a final, I can see that they are starting to believe. As a club and as players, it’s our fifth year in the PSL and we believe that we have matured enough to rightfully believe that we can win a trophy of this nature.

“It is a competition where you come in one game away from a semi-final, so there is a lot of anticipation and excitement for the match this weekend and we are looking forward to it.

“We are up against a formidable opponent in the form of Gavin Hunt and SuperSport United. They have a good cup pedigree, having been to and won in many finals, whereas we are still the youngsters seen maybe as a team that might be underestimated.

“But I do know that if we can get to the semi-final, we’ll have the belief that we can make it to the final and then go all the way.

This year’s edition also saw the introduction of a new-look MTN 8 trophy, which Barker admits he would love to add to the club’s trophy cabinet.

“I’m sure the new trophy is going to be magnificent and something to look forward to, and we’d love to be the first team to put our name on it. We will be giving everything we have,” he added.

“We’ve prepared well and we’re looking forward to the encounter. It offers something different to the league as a once-off game, where you’re either in or out of the tournament after Sunday, and we’re determined to be in the hat come semi-final time.”