Why Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker now only worries about things he can control

19 July 2020 - 14:56
By Marc Strydom
Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker says his team will be able to play the 90 minutes when the league action resumes.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker says his team will be able to play the 90 minutes when the league action resumes.

Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker says while his team cannot expect to be 100 percent ready for a still uncertain kickoff date of a return of the Absa Premiership‚ they will be “able to fulfil our fixtures and play the 90 minutes”.

A four-month break from the final third of the 2019-20 season due to Covid-19 will end with a somewhat rushed return as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) scrambles to complete its fixtures by August 31‚ but unable to agree yet with the governing SA Football Association (Safa) on a resumption date.

Safa still have August 1 as a resumption date.

Given the pressures that will be put on fixturing – with a team like Bidvest Wits still with nine league games plus the Nedbank Cup semifinals‚ and possibly a final‚ to play – the PSL will still hope for a compromise of July 25.

This has left clubs‚ who have now had two weeks of organised training‚ up in the air as to a start target to aim at.

“My stance on the whole matter is that you reach a stage where you only need to worry about what you can control‚” Barker told an online press conference of the SA Football Journalists Association (Safja).

“That’s where I am‚ where I am controlling our daily preparation currently on a daily basis.

“Where the initial start date was going to be about July 22‚ and maybe the weekend of the 18th would be the Nedbank games‚ and we had prepared for that‚ if it moves on to the weekend of the 25th or beyond that‚ we would not be 100 percent ready.

"I don’t think anyone would be.

“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.

“There are some drawbacks. In a normal pre-season you’d be able to play some friendly matches‚ and that won’t be the case.

“But it is what it is‚ and I think as a coach you’ve got to be ready for any eventuality in terms of a date and what the fixture list will throw at us‚ in terms of are we going to play every third day.

“So it’s not ideal‚ but‚ you know‚ we also want to get back to playing football.

"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.”

Stellenbosch‚ promoted as 2018-19 National First Division champions‚ were enjoying a solid first season in the Premiership‚ though also not completely out of the relegation woods yet in 11th place with 27 points from 24 matches when football was suspended on March 16.

Barker said Stellenbosch’s three staff members who tested positive have all recovered and are back at work‚ and player Dino van Rooyen had a test to undergo to be passed negative.