Durban - It’s not often teams get it right against an all conquering Mamelodi Sundowns outfit but Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker lauded his side’s tactical application as the two teams played out to a 1-1 draw at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch last night.
Stellies went into this encounter with their attacking exploits in the spotlight, as teams have found it hard to to breach a stingy Sundowns defence, which had conceded just twice in 12 matches in the league before the match.
But Barker believes it was their defensive foundation that set up their attacking threat on the counter.
“Obviously, the conditions didn’t make it easy for either team, but I thought structurally and tactically ... we set-up really well. We defended sort of narrow, didn’t allow them the pockets of spaces, which they enjoy,” Barker told SuperSport TV after the match.
“So we forced a lot of the balls out wide in the first half and we didn’t really give them that many opportunities. They looked a bit dangerous from one or two set-plays from (Lyle) Lakay and we looked dangerous on transition.”
Barker also revealed they planned to exploit the space befind the Sundowns wing backs.
“It was exactly the way we thought things would happen with their fullbacks playing high up the pitch, maybe we could get Ashley (Du Preez) in behind,” Barker said.
“And then the second half obviously the wind favoured them a bit more and I think a lot of pressure kept on building and obviously a great strike from Lakay.
“But all in all, I just think it was a really good team effort, we stuck to the game plan, great commitment from the players, great attitude from the players and I think a well-deserved point,” he added.
The side from the Cape Winelands also had two youngsters hoping to impress in their starting line-up with Athenkosi Mcaba and Solomon Letsoenyo making their debuts.
“ To give Athenkosi a debut for me was really superb. A lot of good things for him to come.
“Solomon Letsoenyo, the left-back, applied himself really well. All in all, pleased, yes we knew we needed a little bit of front-foot play if they did play into the pockets.
“So, the left and right centre backs needed to come in and apply pressure, which I thought they did really well so for me a good performance from the lads,” he concluded.
Stellenbosch next welcome yet another Pretoria giant to the Danie Craven Stadium, with SuperSport United taking the trip to the windy Western Cape on Wednesday evening for a 17:00 kickoff.