Johannesburg – University of Pretoria coach Steve Barker hailed the performance of young striker Thabo Mnyamane for his role in Tuks’ 1-0 win over Platinum Stars in a Premiership clash in Pretoria on Sunday.
Mnyamane netted the only goal of the game as the Pretoria outfit sealed a vital victory which broke a three-match losing streak and earned the University their first points of the new year.
“For a kid to come from Varsity Cup and already have two goals in the PSL is testimony to his quality and I believe he has a bright future in this country,” Barker said after his side’s sixth home win of the season.
Mnyamane, who signed a contract with Tuks midway through last year but only started playing for the team in 2014, caught Barker’s eye during last year’s Varsity Cup tournament, playing for North-West University (NWU).
The 21-year-old opted not to play for AmaTuks immediately after signing, choosing to complete his tertiary education at the university, before making the move to Pretoria.
Barker said his outfit were under heavy pressure to secure three points, having last done so in December and having gone on to struggle in the new year.
“I’m very relieved… we needed to win. You get games that you want to win and there are games that you must win,” Barker said.
“Today was a must-win for us. We haven’t got too many home games left and we’ve been solid at home.
“We needed to get three points. We’ve been stuck on 17 points for a while now, so just to get to that psychological 20-point barrier, now we can target to get to 30 points.”
A quiet opening period saw little in the way of chances at the Tuks Stadium on Sunday, but that was until the home side finally broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute with Mnyamane scoring his second goal in as many matches with an opportunistic finish inside the box.
“I was very proud of the effort from the players. I thought their work rate, their commitment and their tactical discipline was superb today,” Barker said.
“It’s a good team… Platinum Stars. They keep the ball well, we knew they would have the majority of the possession, but we felt if we just kept our shape and frustrated them, we would be able to create our own chances, which we did.”
Although the win did little to help Tuks climb up the table, Barker felt keeping a clean sheet at home went a long way in earning a win which could spark a turnaround in the largely disappointing campaign.
“We had a couple of solid breaks where we should have got the second goal. Be that as it may, 1/8I am 3/8 very happy with the performance and very proud of the players and they deserve everything that they got today,” Barker said.
“We’ve got to take our chances more, but at the end of the day, the situation we’re in, I’ll take 1-0.
“We’ve actually spoken and said that clean-sheets are more important when you’re in the position that we are, so we’ve got to keep working.
“We’re a team that has a goal or two in us, so today it proved that keeping the clean-sheet got us the three points.”– Sapa