Stellenbosch head coach Steve Barker has revealed the ‘secret’ behind his team’s surprise 3-0 thrashing of Mamelodi Sundowns in a DStv Premiership clash at Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday.
Ashley Du Preez scored a brace, while 21-year-old Jayden Adams netted the other goal as Stellies embarrassed Sundowns in their own backyard.
Barker, beaming with pride has explained in detail his master plan that saw Stellies achieve a rare feat of defeating the league champions. The loss was Sundowns’ only third of the season and first in almost a year.
“When you play Sundowns, it starts with defending well; we had to do that. They are a team, if you give them too much time on the ball, they get comfortable,” Barker told the media.
“They don’t like a team that it is in their face and a bit aggressive in their defence, and we knew that they would leave a high line just the way they have possession so deep in our half that any time we had an opportunity was to play Ashly [Du Preez] in behind.
“We knew his pace would cause problems, which it did with the two goals. Obviously, our third goal was a bit of class from our youngster Adams, so I’m very proud of the effort.”
The Stellies tactician also described the win as ‘special’ as it was the club’s maiden triumph over the former African champions.
“For the whole club, it’s a special day to have achieved what we’ve done with the youngsters. We played a role [in Sundowns not looking like Sundowns during the game]. We didn’t allow them to be the Sundowns they can be… They’re a club built on success, and winning is in their DNA.
“I don’t think they came out not wanting to win the game; I just felt that we played the situation really well. They ran out of ideas. I wouldn’t say we caught them on a bad day; we were just good.”
Barker’s troops have sealed a top-eight finish for the first time since they gained promotion to South Africa’s topflight in the 2018/19 campaign.