‘Stellies’ geared up for the challenge

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Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker acknowledges that playing their remaining Premier Soccer League (PSL) games in Gauteng might be a disadvantage for his Western Cape-based side.

But he’s mindful that without the fans, big teams such as of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates won’t have much of an advantage.

With the Absa Premiership games set to come thick and fast when the PSL and SA Football Association (SAFA) come to an agreement on the resumption date, Barker says ‘Stellies’ are ready to get the ball rolling after a four-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

SAFA stated that the first week of August 2020 is the appropriate date for the commencement of PSL matches following PSL’s initial proposal restart date of July 19.

“My stance on the whole matter is that you reach a stage where you only need to worry about what you can control. That’s where I am‚ where I am controlling our daily preparation currently on a daily basis,” said Barker in an online press conference with the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja).

“Wherever we play, we have to be ready for the challenge. It’s as difficult for all the teams, and fortunately, the four teams in and around us are all coastal-based teams – Chippa, Cape Town City, AmaZulu and Golden Arrows,” – Barker. Picture: Stellenbosch: Facebook. 

“So, playing up in Gauteng is not going to give them an advantage, and we do also have Chiefs and Pirates that we still have to play in the remaining six games.

“It will be interesting to see how the likes of Chiefs and Pirates, who we both still have to play, cope without the 12th man behind them. These are the things we don’t know,” added Barker.

The Absa Premiership rookies are 11th on the log standings with 24 points from their 24 league games so far and Barker admits that the lack of friendly matches in preparation for the resumption of play is a setback.

“There are some drawbacks, with pre-season you would usually have some friendlies, but we cannot have those now. It is not ideal, but as a coach, you must deal with whatever date is thrown at you.

“But I think we would be in a strong enough position‚ from the amount of work the players did during the lockdown‚ and the amount of time we’ve had to prepare them now‚ to fulfil our fixtures and be able to play the 90 minutes,” – Barker. Picture: Stellenbsoch/Facebook.

“It’s our livelihoods and we want the players to be active again‚ and playing and we want to complete the season. So we’re ready for it‚ and I think the players are also ready.”

“We’re looking forward to the last few games. I’ve set out a challenge to my players that we’ve got to come out and be the best team in these six matches, and there’s no reason why we cannot be,” concluded Barker.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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