Barker: Stellenbosch deserves it

Premiership

Stellenbosch FC head coach Steve Barker says consistency throughout the season is what helped them become the 2018/19 National First Division champions.

Barker, who also won promotion with University of Pretoria in the 2011/12 season, secured an Absa Premiership place for the Western Cape side after a 0-0 draw with Maccabi on Sunday.

READ: NFD: Stellenbosch clinch promotion

"It is a very nice achievement for the club. It's been a tough season but we've shown good consistency throughout the season to have made the league for 23 weeks. I think we deserve to finish the league as champions," Barker tells KickOff.com.

"But it was not easy, it was a tough season with a young squad, an inexperienced squad. The credit must go to the players and the technical staff for the effort they put in from day one."

Barker would have liked to seal promotion with a comfortable win but was just happy to get the job done, and explained how his side managed to stay on top of the log.

"We would have liked to be more comfortable you know, win hundred percent and not have to worry about any other result, but it was a complicated game. It wasn't easy, the opponents were up for the task and we showed a bit of anxiousness, but at the end of the day we got over the line no matter what," he adds.

"Our first four games we only had four points and we had a whole number of away games in the first seven or eight but then we had a good run of games, I think 13 or 14 games unbeaten. I think that was key to just give us that gap at the top of the league, that gave us the confidence that we are good enough to stay on top of the league. After that I think it was a matter of keeping things together and winning the really big, important games such as Royal Eagles.

"We beat Ajax [Cape Town] when they were closing on us in the last sort of three matches. We picked up seven out of nine points, with some pressure from Royal Eagles closing the gap... I felt we did start well, the job was done earlier. We brought in quality players, so everything went according to plan but with some challenges."

Barker says he is very much aware of the work that lies ahead in terms of hard work to ensure the club stays in the top-flight for more than one season.

"There are lots of plans that need to be done but we will want to be competitive, we want to go into the league and do ourselves proud, the supporters, the owners of the team. So we want to be competitive in the PSL, we don't want to be going there just to make up numbers. We want to go and be a competitive team and challenge on all fronts," Barker insists.

"They are very happy [the Stellenbosch community], it's the first time they have a professional club in this region so it opens opportunities for players. Everybody is delighted and behind the team and can't wait for the PSL league to come to our doorstep."

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