Steve Barker is aiming for an upturn in fortunes in the second quarter of the season following a 3-1 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns in the DStv Premiership.
Stellenbosch concluded a challenging week in Johannesburg with a 3-1 loss to the league leaders, as Grant Kekana, Aubrey Modiba, and Siyabonga Mabena found the net to overturn Devin Titus’ early goal.
Expressing his frustration, Barker pointed to the absence of several key players due to injury and suspension, as well as his team’s difficulties in dealing with Sundowns’ set-piece situations.
However, Barker also commended the dedication of his young starting team.
Despite recent disappointments, Barker expressed optimism about having a fuller squad available for upcoming matches, emphasizing that his team would be giving their all in the second quarter of the campaign.
“It’s been a tough two encounters [against Pirates and Sundowns this week] so it’s important to rest and re-energise,” he added. “Our suspensions are over now, and hopefully the injured players will be back by the next match which is a big one against TS Galaxy at home.
“I think in Q2, the next seven matches of the season, will be defining for us. They are games that we have to make sure we’re getting maximum points from as often as we can.”
“Coming into the match, we knew it would be a very challenging task for us,” Barker said during his post-match press conference.
“Sundowns are obviously the benchmark for South African football and one of the best teams on the continent, and having gone unbeaten in their previous 31 games, we knew they would be up to the task of breaking the record [for the longest unbeaten run in the Premiership].
“We were also depleted with three of our starting defenders either injured [Deano van Rooyen and Fawaaz Basadien] or suspended [Ismael Toure], and then Jayden Adams, another key player suspended from the Orlando Pirates game, and Iqraam Rayners also injured.
“The positive side is that their absence gives other players opportunities and when you see players like Kyle Jurgens and Qobolwakhe Sibande play two games against Pirates and Sundowns and apply themselves, it’s good for their development but it doesn’t make our task easier.