Their riches and resources, transformed into success and legacy, is unparalleled in the domestic game.
But yet a “small” but ambitious team like Stellenbosch FC have pushed the aforementioned trio to the very brink over the past couple of weeks.
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“Stellies”, who are only in their second season of top-flight football, fell to an injury-time winner from Peter Shalulile against triple-league champions Sundowns before Kudakwashe Mahachi came off the bench to help SuperSport share the points at the Danie Craven Stadium.
And if that wasn’t enough to break the spirit of this young Stellenbosch team, they then travelled to the imposing FNB Stadium on Tuesday to meet the Mighty Amakhosi where they led twice in the last 18 minutes of the game, only to see the hosts grab a point in the dying stages.
While obviously disappointed with the eventual results, Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker prefers to adopt a “half-full cup” approach.
“There is obvious disappointment in leading a game twice and not seeing it through, and as you rightly say, we have conceded late in the last three matches to either not win the game or allow a team to get a draw,” Barker said after the 2-2 draw against Chiefs on Tuesday night.
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“But one can either look at the glass half empty and say we’re disappointed and that we should be doing better.
“There’s another way of looking at the glass half full and say for a team like us, that only two seasons back were in the NFD, to coming to Kaizer Chiefs and being disappointed that we’re not taking the three points, disappointed not to hold on against Sundowns, disappointed that we didn’t beat SuperSport, I think that as much as we are disappointed, we need to take into consideration the strides we are making as a club.
“But what is disappointing is that we are getting close, but not getting over the line because I think we deserved more from all three matches,” he added.
Barker has been at pains trying to work out the exact reasons for his team conceding late goals. He has looked at the conditioning of his squad with maybe the energy levels low during the closing stages of games, while inexperience is also a factor. However, Barker has been forced to admit that the bigger teams simply have superior quality coming off the bench when the game is in the balance
This was particularly evident at the FNB Stadium with Chiefs counterpart Gavin Hunt being able to throw on the the talent and skills of Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro in search of the equaliser. It was Castro that snatched the late goal that broke Stellies’ hearts.
“I think maybe if you look at the depth in our squad, we may not have the same abilities right now to either see out the game or force the issue to get the winner,” Barker said.
“We are obviously always looking at growing our squad, improving our squad. We are a very young squad. Ibrahim Jabaar is only 18 years old in the midfield. Most of the players, it’s only their second season at the highest level. We will learn. We will grow from these experiences, but we will try to grow the squad.”