- Stellies reach first-ever cup final
- Barker praises youth influence
- Await CKO final opponents
WHAT HAPPENED: The Cape Winelands team are jubilant after advancing to their first-ever major cup final, convincingly defeating Richards Bay 3-0 in the first semi-final of the Carling Knockout Cup on Saturday afternoon in Durban.
Goals from Devin Titus, Anicet Oura, and Antonio van Wyk secured the victory for Steve Barker's squad, putting them in contention for a significant cup title.
Head coach Steve Barker expressed his delight and praised his players for turning on the heat in the second half of the match.
BARKER'S VIEW: "Massive, massive achievement for the club and to see our supporters traveling from Cape Town by bus to get here and got here at halftime. I think when they got here, our players turned it on," Barker expressed in his post-match interview on SABC Sport.
"Really good second half, once we got the first goal I think it settled our nerves. I thought first half we played a little bit cagey, nervousness in another semi-final. But I think one can't really put into context how important and big of a victory this is for the club."
The coach went on to express his delight at the growth of his young players, "To see young players like Jayden Adams on his 100th appearance for the club to take us into the final. Young players like Devin Titus stepping up and showing what they are made of is testimony to them as players."
WHAT RAYNERS SAID: Man of the Match Iqraam Rayners, who reached a R100,000 cheque after the game, expressed a sense of relief as the team made history for the club, "I just want to say thanks to the man above. It means a lot to us because two semi-finals and we missed out on going to the finals. I'm happy to be in a final finally.
"For us, we had to kill the game in the first half, but we didn't get many opportunities. [In] the second half we came out stronger and I knew we were going to win the game, so I am happy. We started a bit slow, and in the second half we came out with a bit of intensity, a bit of a fight because they were more physical and we knew that they weren't going to keep up with us."
Rayners is now R300,000 richer having picked up R200,000 from the previous two Knockout matches.
TEMBO UNHAPPY: "First of all, congratulations to Stellenbosch, worthy winners, they deserve to go to the final. I thought they played well today. We just didn't get into our rhythm. We defended well first half, but second half we didn't deal with the high ball, which they played all the time from Sage (Stephens) to Iqraam for them to chase. So, we should have been able to deal with that, we dealt with it in the first half but second half we went to sleep. But, for me, the main thing is to keep the ball and we didn't get into that rhythm of passing. We lost possession so cheaply and it was always going to be difficult because our chances were very few."
WHAT'S NEXT: Stellies will now wait to see who they will battle in the Carling Knockout final as AmaZulu face TS Galaxy in the second semi-final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Sunday, December 3.
While Barker's side will head back home to the Cape where they will prepare for their next Premier Soccer League match against Cape Town City in the iKapa derby on Friday, December 8.