Troughton’s side have no choice but to be more committed to offence
SOMETIMES, and especially in a promotion play-off campaign such as this one for a PSL spot, a team needs a little bit of luck. It needs a few things to go its way to pave the way to success. For Stellenbosch FC, unfortunately, Lady Luck hasn’t as yet flashed a smile at them.
In short, while the Cape Winelands team has performed with character and commitment, luck just hasn’t been on their side. Somehow or other, fate has conspired against them. Today, when Stellenbosch face Baroka FC at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane (3pm), they are hoping for a change of fortune.
They certainly need it; victory is paramount. As it stands on the play-off standings, the winner of which secures a place in next season’s PSL, Baroka are top with four points, followed by Stellenbosch on two and Black Leopards on one point. With two games remaining, the Western Cape club has to win to keep its hopes alive.
In the opening play-off match against Baroka at Athlone two weeks ago, Stellenbosch had key midfielder Manti Mekoa out suspended. His loss was a major blow – but, despite being second best on the day, the team rallied to register a 2-2 draw. Then, in the second outing against Leopards in Thohoyandou, Stellenbosch had to face a partisan, sell-out crowd and an intimidating atmosphere. Again, despite things not going their way, they hung in bravely for a 0-0 draw.
Going into this afternoon’s clash with Baroka, it’s no different. Stellenbosch are again on the back foot, courtesy of the absence of the influential Diego Brown. The experienced left-footer was red-carded in the previous match against Leopards and is suspended.
“It’s not ideal, but this is football and we have to handle it,” said Stellenbosch coach Sammy Troughton. “Diego (Brown) gave us great balance out wide and it’s a loss. But, then again, it’s a chance for someone else to come in and take the opportunity. I will have to reshuffle things, not seriously, just a tweak perhaps. I’m not sure yet, I have a few options, like sacrificing young Jarrod Moroole in the centre and asking him to play wide. But we’ll see, it’s an important decision, so I will have to think about it.”
As for the approach against Baroka today, Troughton knows that Stellenbosch will have to make the most of their opportunities in attack. So far, in the two opening fixtures, the team hasn’t done too much up front, but today, with victory so vital, they have no choice but to be more committed to offence. It’s not a case of being gung-ho, Stellenbosch will still employ the same tight defensive lines – but, when going forward, they will have to be more urgent.
“I don’t think Baroka will change their style,” said Troughton. “They will come out and play, they are a team that don’t like to sit back and hit on the counter. I think we saw that when they beat Leopards 2-1 earlier in the week. So we know what to expect, we just have to make sure that we capitalise on the chances when we get them.”
HAPPY RETURN: Stellenbosch midfielder Manti Mekoa could play a key role in today’s match.