by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – IT seemingly is mission accomplished for Stellensbosch FC, who are on the verge of creating history by reaching their highest tally of points in the elite league.
However, Stellies are only getting started as the DStv Premiership enters the final stretch and a momentous finish in the top eight is more possible than ever.
The wheels had seemed to be coming off since the beginning of the year.
Before Wednesday’s positive result against fellow top eight hopefuls, Golden Arrows, coach Steve Barker’s men had the discomfort of being the only side not to win a match in 2022, in both the league and cup.
Their last win dated back to December 22, against relegation-haunted TS Galaxy in the league.
That the 1-0 away at the Mbombela Stadium was settled by an 88th minute own-goal magnified Stellenbosch’s struggles.
Now, that six-pointer away to Arrows at the Princess Magogo Stadium on Wednesday has put them in a good position but they are not resting on their laurels.
Captain Zitha Kwinika maintains the side is eager for the top eight dogfight, success which will be a momentous occasion for the Western Cape team playing its third campaign in the topflight.
Having gotten the monkey off their back with the 2-0 victory over Arrows, Stellies have exceeded the 30 points that was initially the target for the season, and have set their sights on that lucrative finish in the top half.
The change in fortunes against Abafana Bes’thende on Wednesday catapulted Barker’s side to sixth on the table with 36 points.
This is their joint-best points tally, set in their first season (2019/20) when they finished tenth. As a mark of progress, this campaign, they have reached that figure with six games remaining.
Last season, they accumulated 29 points overall and finished 14th to survive relegation by a whisker.
“I think we started very well to be where he have put ourselves compared to the previous season,” Kwinika said.
“But that is history,” the captain, formerly Macheke, said in an interview with CAJ News Africa.
“Our target for this season was to get to 30 points as soon as possible,” the Soweto-born defender revealed.
“We have reached that target. The next target is for us to finish top eight. If we stay in that top eight it will be an achievement for the team.”
Stellenbosch are five points ahead of inconsistent SuperSport United, who occupy eighth position.
Kwinika’s team has a tricky run-in.
They are away to relegation-mired Chippa United, top eight-chasing SuperSport United and favourites Mamelodi Sundowns, the defending champions.
Stellies will host the hot-and-cold Kaizer Chiefs and strugglers Maritzburg United before the Western Cape derby at home to Cape Town City on May 21, the last day of the season.
Kwinika believes they are up to the top eight task.
“We’re striving to get there but it’s not easy. We know what’s at stake,” he said.
“We’re working hard to stay there. We have been there from the word go and want to stay there until the end of the season.”
The former Bidvest Wits, Chiefs and Chippa player has featured in 21 of Stellenbosch league games this season, scoring once.
– CAJ News