Pretoria – Having made a shaky start to their second season in the Premiership, University of Pretoria coach Steve Barker says he is eager to win back-to-back games by beating visiting Free State Stars on Wednesday evening.
AmaTuks eased past AmaZulu in Pretoria on Saturday, sealing their third home win of the season, and with Stars travelling to the Tuks Stadium in midweek, the University outfit will be confident of getting a positive result.
“We’re looking forward to the match. It’s good for us to have got the win, it’s lifted the mood in the camp,” Barker said ahead of the game.
Currently 14th in the league standings, a point and three places below Stars, Tuks will look to put some daylight between themselves and the relegation zone, after a solid weekend display which saw them climb up a place.
“There’s a bit of confidence going into Wednesday’s game,” Barker said.
“It’s a big game once again for us. Free State Stars are one of those teams, at home, that we believe we should be beating and picking up points against.
“It’s a crucial match. Any back-to-back wins in this league is massive; it doesn’t happen too regularly.”
The teams have met just twice in the past, with both games ending in draws, but Barker believes he finally has a full-strength squad at his disposal, after a difficult run of results left the team crippled by injuries.
“Now that we have everybody fit and well and everybody available, it’s just a matter of consistency in selection and players putting their hands up and doing the job,” Barker said.
Strikers Atusaye Nyondo and Geofrey Massa, as well as the midfield paring of Ronald Ketjijere and Mpho Matsi, have all suffered niggling injuries throughout the season, but Barker was pleased to have all four available for selection.
“I feel that once we are able to play our best squad over a period of time, we will play a lot better than what we are.
“It’s still a long road. One win is really good for the team, but we can’t get over-excited. We need to follow it up with another win.
“Our focus is for this team to start playing at our full potential and once we do that, I believe the results will be forthcoming.”
Looking at his opposition, Barker admitted Stars could be affected, both negatively and positively, by the fact that their coach Steve Komphela was relieved of his duties over the weekend, following a 2-0 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs, which sealed his fate.
“Stars have a new coach, sometimes it can give the team a bit of a lift, it could also have an adverse effect.
“Normally the first couple of games, the players are lifted but we aren’t sure about how they’ll go.”
Barker did, however, warn that the Free State team were always a dangerous outfit, with the potential to upset the odds at crucial times during the season.
“Stars are traditionally a tough team to play at their home. They’re not the best travellers but they’re always a dangerous team,” Barker said.
“They’re never a comfortable team to play against. They’re full of running and very physical.
“If you allow them space and time to counter-attack you and out-muscle you, you’re going to be in for a long evening.”
Premiership games: Wednesday: Bloemfontein Celtic v Golden Arrows (Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium), University of Pretoria v Free State Stars (Tuks Stadium), Moroka Swallows v Wits (Dobsonville Stadium), Mpumalanga Black Aces v Mamelodi Sundowns (Mbombela Stadium). – Sapa