Football

STELLENBOSCH READY FOR CUP AS SUPERSPORT LOOM

PIC: Devin Titus and Andre de Jong celebrate a goal against Milford FC in the Nedbank Cup Last 16

Stellenbosch FC have already won a trophy this season in the form of the Carling Knockout and are currently in second place in the DStv Premiership, but the desire to lift the Nedbank Cup trophy burns as fierce as ever.
The Cape Winelands side have been hugely impressive this season and are on a 20-game unbeaten run in all competitions that dates back more than six months to September.  
But they have a major obstacle in their Nedbank Cup quarterfinal with the visit of SuperSport United, a team who on their day are a match for anyone.  
“The mood is positive and upbeat; we have been very competitive in the cup competitions of late and having won a cup competition already this season gives the players that extra motivation and desire to try and do it again and get into the next round,” Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker said.

“Once you get that initial success there are one of two responses, it either satisfies your desire to win a trophy and you think it is ‘job done’, or conversely it can make you hungry to win more.
“The joy and recognition, getting a trophy and medals, and all the accolades that go with it, was a special time for the club and the players in particular. So I believe that sort of feeling they had has inspired them to chase more trophies.”
Barker was on the losing side in the Nedbank Cup final while the coach of second-tier University of Pretoria in 2009 as they lost 1-0 to Moroka Swallows.
But he is a far more experienced coach 15 years on and would love to right that wrong with what is an exciting group of players.
“What has really amazed me of late in this team is that they find a way not to lose. They have found a way to play the circumstance and the situation,” Barker said.

“We are two games away from a final and we have to give it our best shot. SuperSport are obviously a very tough opposition, we have played them for three time already this season.

“They have all been really tight games and I don’t expect this one to be any different. Our mentality and desire needs to keep us on the winning track.

“Our full focus is only on Saturday to get ourselves into the next round, after that we will assess where we are.”
Stellenbosch will be without centre-back Thabo Moloisane, who is suspended, but midfielders Jayden Adams and Genino Palace are expected to return from injury.
“We are a small squad in terms of numbers, but the positive part of that is that all players are playing an important role. It is not like some guys are never in the team or not getting starts.
“Everybody is contribution and feeling a part of the team, and that has created unity in the squad. There is a lot of cohesion and sharing the load (of scoring goals). If you can defend well then it just adds to the recipe.
“We have been unbeaten since that loss to Sundowns over six months ago. I think what happened is we found the right combinations and right way to play with the players we had.”
New Zealand international forward Andre de Jong says the side is determine to win a second trophy this season in the Nedbank Cup.
“As a team we are super excited for this game, it is a chance to get into another semifinal. SuperSport are a very tricky team and pose a lot of threats going forward, but hopefully we can keep the same form that we have been in and progress this weekend.  

“It is a massive game and in a cup match anything can happen on the day. Their (SuperSport’s) league form has been patchy, but their cup form has been very good. A quarterfinal is no easy game. It is a massive week coming up.”

“As a team we have been in good form, everyone is pulling together in the same direction. If you have an off game, you know the other guys in the team will lift you up.”
De Jong says there is also a lot of competition within the squad.
“The technical team are very good in giving the whole squad a run. That breeds internal competition in the squad and that is a key factor in the run of 20 unbeaten games. The confidence from the technical team aids the run we have been on.
Young forward Devin Titus, 23, has been having a stellar season, including in the Nedbank Cup, where he has scored in both rounds so far. It is part of a run of five goals in his last eight games.

“Preparation has been good, we are looking forward to the quarterfinal clash, hoping to then make the semifinals and the final, but we have to focus on this game first. SuperSport are always a tough opposition,” Titus said.
“Scoring goals is not my main objective, my main objective is to win games for the team, whether I score, assist or contribute nothing, as long as we win, that is the most important thing.

“I’m young, but age is just a number. Winning is in my mentality. Without hard work we cannot win, we have the Carling Knockout in the bag and are now hoping to get the Nedbank Cup next.
“The supporters always make a big different. They (SuperSport) will come out guns blazing, and we have to protect our home turf. It is a tough match and anything can happen.”

SOURCED FROM THE NEDBANK CUP WEBSITE.

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