Johannesburg – The University of Pretoria will hope to get their Premiership campaign back on track when the league new-comers take on SuperSport United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Tuesday evening.
Tuks coach Steve Barker said ahead of the clash that his young side would have to pick themselves up from their Nedbank Cup first-round defeat to Maritzburg United on Saturday.
“It's a tough league. We've just got to keep plugging away and we need to keep on working at it,” Barker said.
“If you look at the log, if we win Tuesday's game in hand we jump back to fifth position, so there is a lot play for.”
The fixture will serve as an opportunity to catch up with the rest of the pack, who have played 19 league games.
Both AmaTuks and Matsatsantsa have a game in hand with 18 and will rejoin their fellow-title hopefuls by Wednesday morning.
The fixture was scheduled to be played on February 16, but was postponed due to United's Caf Champions League fixture against FC Don Bosco, which Gavin Hunt's side won 1-0.
Tuesday's Pretoria derby will be Tuks' fourth match in 13 days and SuperSport's fifth.
Barker admitted that players' fitness was at the top of his priority list with games coming thick and fast.
“We play on Tuesday against SuperSport, so one needs to get the balance right of winning the game, but at the same time you can't play players on a Wednesday, a Saturday and then again on the following Tuesday,” he said.
“I think we have to be clever in terms of what we do in those situations, we must put out a team that will win the game but at the same time, we have to have an eye on the players' fitness.”
The student outfit are yet to record a victory since the Premiership resumed following the Africa Cup of Nations, but Barker played down his side's lack of goals, adding that momentum was hard to come by in such a closely contested competition.
“I don't think there is any team in this league from position five down that has the capability to win two games in a row.”
“It's just too tight a league, the teams are too evenly matched and balanced.
“The top four, if you include Free State Stars, they are capable of winning two or three games on the trot, I just think the league is too tight.”
Barker said the target was to get to 35 points as soon as possible with 11 matches in hand.
“Three points at this stage in the league is like gold, you could jump two or three positions, or you could get dragged into a relegation battle, so we have to keep taking it one game at a time.”
In Tuesday's only other fixture, Moroka Swallows host Orlando Pirates in a Soweto derby, after the Buccaneers also had the fixture postponed due to their CAF Champions League participation, where Pirates routed Comoran side Djabal FC. – Sapa