In a historic clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday afternoon, Stellenbosch FC etched their name in the annals of South African football by claiming the inaugural Carling Knockout title.
Having overcome the likes of Chippa United, Polokwane City, and Richards Bay en route to reaching a first-ever cup final, the fairytale continued for Stellenbosch FC after they were crowned Carling Knockout champions following a nail-biting (1-1) 5-4 penalty shootout victory over TS Galaxy.
Steve Barker’s side made a positive start to the encounter and came close to opening the scoring in the 19th minute when Man of the Match Iqraam Rayners found himself through on goal after a sleek passage of passing football, but the striker was denied by a smart save from opposition ‘keeper Facre Ntwari.
The Maroons pushed on in search of the opening goal but were pegged back at the other end on the stroke of half-time when Lehlohonolo Mojela fired TS Galaxy ahead with a powerful right-footed drive from the edge of the box.
Left to reflect on their missed chances during the half-time break, Stellenbosch emerged for the second stanza with renewed vigour and leveled matters through the boot of Ivorian defender Ismaël Touré, who made no mistake an unstoppable effort of his own.
Touré’s goal forced the match into an additional 30 minutes of extra-time but the two sides could not be separated, meaning a penalty shootout would be required to determine the destination of this season’s prestigious trophy.
A tense affair ensued from the spot and when Mojela missed his spot-kick, Darrel Matsheke was the man to step up for the chance to make history for Stellenbosch. The midfielder kept his composure and made no mistake as he sent the crowd into raptures with the decisive penalty.
Following the match, Barker was quick to pay credit to the Stellenbosch FC management, technical team, and players for the historic achievement, while also dedicating the achievement to his family, and the late Clive Barker and Oshwin Andries.
“I’d like to thank the football club, they deserve it, for what they’re doing and Stellenbosch and for the community and creating opportunities for people,” Barker said.
“I want to thank my family, my wife and kids, for their support, the staff that have put in the hard work every day, and the supporters who support us week in and week out and who made the effort to be here in Durban with us for the final.
“Most of all, I just want to thank the players. They deserve it. They put in shift after shift week in and week out. Today I could see that energy was a bit low. And you know, we’ve been travelling a lot, playing a lot of games of late, so credit must go to them they deserve it.
“I also just want to say that this one was for my parents, heavenly parents, as well as for Clive as well as for Oshwin Andries. We dedicated this to them, and we’ve come through, so I’m sure they’re looking upon us and very proud.”