Stellenbosch FC’s triumphant cup journey: A dedication to fallen heroes

Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker steered his team to their first-ever Carling Knockout Cup final, a poignant achievement dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers Aswin Andries and his iconic uncle Clive Barker.

Over the weekend, Stellenbosch showcased their brilliance, securing a resounding 3-0 victory over Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium. The Cape winelands side saw goals from Devin Titus, Anicet Oura, and Antonio van Wyk, marking a triumphant crescendo to a season shadowed by tragedy.

The journey to the final was not only about sporting glory but also a heartfelt tribute to defender Aswin Andries, tragically lost to a stabbing incident in February. Coach Barker, whose family mourned the passing of the legendary coach Clive “The Dog” Barker in June, emphasized the deep personal connection to the final. Barker expressed, “I dedicate going to the final to both Ashwin and Clive.”

Hailing from Durban, the city hosting the Carling final on December 16, Barker aspires to honour Andries and Clive by clinching the coveted cup. “I grew up in Durban as a youngster, so hopefully I can go back in two weeks time and do them [Andries and Clive] proud and do our club proud and go all the way and win the final,” Barker passionately declared.

Reflecting on Stellenbosch’s journey, Barker highlighted the significance of their semifinal experience this year. Having faced disappointment in two previous semifinals, Barker acknowledged the valuable lessons learned, stating, “I do think we learnt from the previous two semifinals we lost on penalties and on away goals rule.”

Barker pointed to the influence of young talents like Jayden Adams, whose 100th appearance proved instrumental in the recent victory. “When you have young players in your team that are already getting those amounts of caps, being in two semifinals, I think that sort of experience helped us this afternoon,” Barker explained.

Stellenbosch’s quest for glory faced setbacks earlier in the year, with defeats in the Nedbank Cup semifinals and the MTN8 last four. Barker, undeterred, is determined to script a different ending in the Carling Knockout Cup final. The coach’s resilience and the team’s collective experience stand as a testament to their unwavering commitment to honour the memory of their fallen comrades and etch their names in football history.