So near yet so far for Steenberg

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Earlier this year Steenberg United were seemingly on course to win promotion to the Premier Soccer League.

They would have replicated what former Cape side, now Port Elizabeth-based Chippa United, did when they won what was then known as the Vodacom League way back in the 2010/11 season, GladAfrica Championship in 2011/12 and made their ABSA Premiership debut in the 2012/13 season.

But now all that shall remain a dream that went down the drain for the Cape side, who now find themselves 8th on the GladAfrica Championship log and a massive 14 points behind 1st placed Ajax Cape Town, though both sides were once equal on points having played the same number of games in January.

“It’s been a tough one, considering the fact that we have just lost a coach (Mike Lukhubeni) that took us from the ABC Motsepe League straight to the GladAfrica Championship. So the new coach was slowly trying to understand the team, and now this break happened. But we can’t really blame anybody else, the situation is not a man made,” says club manager Simphiwe Clans.

Having won the 2018/19 ABC Motsepe Western Cape Regional League, Steenberg United gained promotion to the GladAfrica Championship for the 2019/2020 season despite losing to Gauteng’s JDR Stars in the ABC Motsepe League national playoffs.

And the club manager believes their debut season has not been far from what they had initially planned at the start of the season.

“The goal for the season was not to get relegated, anything else would be a total bonus. Our focus and ambition was not to get relegated, but the more we picked up points it was the more we gained confidence about promotion and we said let’s see how far we can go, you know. But as we look at the log now, we’re okay in terms of not getting relegated, we are still on course,” said the manager.

“Let’s look at the start, our start was maybe not a good one. Then we started picking up points, and maybe someone might say the break was a blessing in disguise because out of 4 games, that is 12 points we only picked up one. So it’s good and bad, because like I said earlier, the coach (Theo Hempe) was still slowly trying to understand the players you know, and the players were also beginning to warm up to his philosophy. Coach Mike and Coach Theo are 2 totally different people,” Clans added.

The resignation of former coach Mike Lukhubeni midway into the season shook many people, as the club seemed to be heading to the right direction when Lukhubeni was still at the helm. And it was after his resignation that Steenberg United lost ground on the GladAfrica Championship title chase, and Clans agrees.

“Well, I think it’s a very easy one to say. You just don’t lose a parent and become well overnight, it takes time to heal. Like I said earlier coach Mike took this team from the bottom and he has been with the team for quite a while with some of the players that he brought in, and some of those players he worked with before.

“So his resignation took us back a bit but you know what, life goes on. I think no one cannot stop umntu (a person) from moving forward and we wish him well in his future endearvours,” he concluded.

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By Shane Matsoyane

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