Pretoria – Following his outfit’s 2-0 Premiership victory over Mpumalanga Black Aces in Pretoria on Sunday, University of Pretoria boss Steve Barker says he is feeling a sense of relief after a horror run of fixtures this week.
Tuks put a disappointing week behind them, having suffered consecutive defeats to Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in the space of three days, by easing past their visitors with two unanswered second-half goals.
“If you look at the fixtures we were dealt, to play Chiefs and Pirates within four days away from home and then to come up against a team like Aces, who have shown some ability, it was always going to be a tough week,” Barker, nephew of Aces coach Clive Barker, said after the game in Pretoria.
“The players have come through even though we lost two on the trot, I felt that our performances against the two big teams warranted and gave me faith that this teams is competitive, especially against teams around us.”
Second half goals from Atusaye Nyondo and substitute Thabo Mosadi guided AmaTuks to three valuable points, which lifts them up into ninth place for the year, as the Premier Soccer League takes a break until mid-January.
“We showed that today. I was really proud of the performance of the players. We showed more effort, more desire and more willingness, and I thought we were the strongest team from start to finish,” Barker added.
With 17 points from their 15 fixtures thus far, Tuks have reached the halfway stage of the league season. Compared to their last campaign, however, Tuks are five points off the pace of where they were at the same stage.
“Overall, very pleased to get to 17 points. We’re probably about three to five points shy of where we wanted to be, but I think second round, we will be a lot stronger than we were in the first round,” Barker said.
“You don’t want to go three games on the trot with losses, so just to get three points just helps us to climb up the table. “We only play again on February 5. It’s a long break again but I think the players deserve a rest and hopefully come back fresh and enthusiastic.”
Tuks went down fighting against both Chiefs and Pirates in their previous fixtures, losing out 1-0 in both meetings, but Barker said plenty of positives could be taken from their narrow defeats this season.
“If you analyse the log, Chiefs, Pirates, Platinum Stars, Wits, SuperSport United, all of them have been 1-0 losses. “They are teams will lots of resources, quality players and it shows that we are competitive. “A couple of those 1-0 losses we probably deserved more. We’re probably just lacking in two or three departments of real quality and then I don’t see any reason why we can’t be challenging regularly and confidently for a top eight position.” – Sapa