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‘A Club That Had The Potential To Do What They Are Doing Now’

Stellenbosch Head Coach Steve Barker says he doesn’t have a lot of regrets in his career, but says not saving AmaZulu from relegation in the 2014/2015 season is one.

Barker left Tuks, where he had been for over a decade, in the middle of that season to try and save Usuthu’s season, but despite almost doing the job, the club went down on the last day.

They would only return to the top flight when they bought Thanda Royal Zulu’s franchise after that club won the National First Division title two seasons later.

Barker had taken the decision to go to AmaZulu because he felt the club was a sleeping giant that had the potential to do what they are achieving now under new owner Sandile Zungu and Head Coach Benni McCarthy.

Barker was speaking in an interview with Rob Delport in Edition 16 of iDiski Times.

“I don’t think it was a wrong thing, but I do have a one regret, and that was not keeping AmaZulu up,” Barker told iDiski Times.

“We did go there under very difficult circumstances, they only had four points from 11 matches. And if you take the points that we got in those 19 matches, it was enough points in that time period that we would have probably finished in the top eight.”

“But ja, we failed on the last day of the season, when we lost to Maritzburg. And had we won that match, we would have kept AmaZulu in the PSL. So there wasn’t any regrets for decisions I made that led us not to stay up, it was just really hurtful to have gone so far, taking them to one game from winning and keeping the team in the league.”

“So ja, that’s a regret. But I still would have made the decision to have gone there. Look I grew up in Durban as a youngster, Clive, obviously, had coached numerous times at AmaZulu.”

“I felt they were a club that were possibly a sleeping giant, and I just felt that it was a club that had the potential to do what they are doing now. It was just disappointing that at the time, we weren’t able to do that for a number of reasons, which we won’t discuss now.”

Barker is of course the nephew of Clive Barker, and says his uncle and a few coaches influenced the former Wits University player to go into coaching.

“I played under people like Terry Paine, John Latham, Eddie Lewis, they were some of the coaches that I played under at Wits, and sort of looked up to them. And then when I started at Tuks, there were some good coaches that I could learn from, people like Steve Haupt, and Sammy Troughton at the time was also coaching there.”

“And obviously, you know, with my uncle having done as well as that with the national team, and his coaching pathway, it was something that sort of gave me the inspiration to try and achieve even half the amount of things that he had achieved.”

Barker is now approaching his fifth year as coach of Stellenbosch, and is one of the few coaches in the country to have had longevity in the role. The 18 months he spent at Usuthu is the shortest period he has had a club.

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