Steve Barker dedicates Stellies’ first cup final to uncle Clive and Oswin Andries
Stellenbosch FC are reaping rewards of their sound player development and will continue to do so if they can keep the core of their current squad together, coach Steve Barker said after leading the club to its first cup final since their promotion to the top-flight in 2018-2019.
Stellies beat Richards Bay 3-0 at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi on Saturday to qualify for the final of the Carling Knockout Cup where they will meet winners of Sunday’s second semifinal between AmaZulu and TS Galaxy.
Second-half goals from Devin Titus, Anicet Oura and Antonio van Wyk gave Stellies their third away victory in the competition after they did the same to Chippa United and Polokwane City in the first round and quarterfinals.
Barker said the club’s success is not surprising because they decided some time ago to “not buy success but instead create opportunity” through their development of young players.
“We create opportunity, we don’t buy it,” said Barker.
“We’re starting to see the rewards of investing in young players and giving young players an opportunity. I think we’re laying a really good foundation and it can be seen with players who have gone, but we still have an ability to be competitive.
“There’s now a core group of players that the club needs to keep if we want to be successful. Players like Jayden Adams and Titus; hopefully they’re committed to the club and want to be here for a long term as they’ve shown by signing long contracts.
“If we show we can win trophies and we show we can compete at the top end of the table then there’s no reason for players to want to leave. Why would you want to go to a bigger club that is not challenging and winning things?
“So hopefully by being successful and doing what we’re doing, this is where players would want to be. It’s important we keep our core of players who have come through the ranks.”
Barker dedicated Saturday’s victory to his late uncle, Clive Barker, the former Bafana Bafana coach who died this year, and Stellies player Oswin Andries who was stabbed to death in Stellenbosch this year.
“At the beginning of the year we lost one of our soldiers in Oswin Andries and I lost my uncle Clive. For me I dedicate going to the final to both Oswin and Clive. Hopefully I can come back and win the final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 16.
“I grew up in Durban, hopefully I can come back in two weeks’ time and do them and our club proud by going all the way and win the final.”
It was third time lucky for Stellies after losing two cup semifinals to Orlando Pirates this year and Barker said the experience his young players gained in those encounters is what helped them ease past an outclassed Bay on Saturday.
“We learnt from our previous semifinals, losing on penalties in Nedbank Cup in May and on away goals in the MTN8 in September. I think those lessons were learnt by players like Jayden Adams. He’s only 22 but it was his 100th appearance today.
“So when you have young players in your team who are already getting those amounts of caps and been in two semifinals, I think that’s the sort of experience we have and it helped us this afternoon.”
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