Stellies takes the DStv Diski Challenge

Stellenbosch FC came from behind to beat Golden Arrows and clinch the DStv Diski Challenge title on the final day at Tsakane Stadium.

Indeed, it was a victory worthy of champions as Evangelos Vellios’s men came out on the right side of the seven-goal thriller! 

The Western Cape outfit required just a single point from their encounter with Golden Arrows this past weekend, however, that proved more difficult than expected.

The Diski outfit were left shell-shocked by a quickfire double by Arrows duo Samkelo Mzolo and Sandile Ndlovu who netted within a minute of one another. 

A half-time deficit was overturned by the hosts, who went on to score four goals following the resumption of play.

The deficit was reduced just five minutes into the second half through Ethan Felix before Mervin Boji’s hattrick in the final thirty minutes of the season ensured the three points and the title remained with the hosts. 

Following the hotly contested encounter, Boji opened up Vellios’ halftime chat. “Under-23 players in our team are only Mini, Myself and Liam. The coach said we must lead this team to victory at halftime and we had no other option,” stated Boji. “Three goals for me, but it’s never about me those were team goals and I am happy that I contributed to this success.”

Vellios went on to add, “If I look at it from the club structure point of view I think credit to the management who put in a very good structure to get the club aligned from top to the bottom,”.

He added, “We have a head coach in Steve Barker who trusts in youth. So, it helps us, we train together. I don’t do my own thing, I follow the principles that the club has set and how we want to play.

“And there is a pathway and now we have a pipeline that is producing players and it’s credit to the club. Ultimately, the guy who deserves more credit is coach Barker because he got the courage to play young players.

“Since the days I was blessed to work with him at Tuks [University of Pretoria], your Andile Jali of this world, it was him and Bongani Zungu [as well]. He [Barker] has an amazing history in SA football.”

Vellios also commended his players for handling their nerves at halftime as they completed the turnaround to lift their second title in three years, as they first won it during the 2021/22 season.

“We knew what to expect; credit to Sundowns for the part [they played]. To lose the league [with] 66 points [in the bag] must be very painful,” he said.

“We had to come up here and I could sense that there were some nerves from all of us because we knew the consequences. We were 2-0 down. The boys were rattled and at half-time we said ‘we are not playing our football’.

“If we are going to lose the title on the final day let’s go out playing our game with courage and without fear and the boys came out and put up a massive performance. 

“The maturity we showed and the tactical adjustment we made at half time and the boys executed well and I want to give credit to the technical team and the players for their effort.”

They join Arrows who are the only team to have won the Diski Challenge title twice since its inception in 2014.

WATCH: Stellies DStv Diski team were crowned the champions of the 2023/24 season!