Pretoria – While he insists his young outfit will respect table-topping Kaizer Chiefs, University of Pretoria boss Steve Barker says they will not afford the Soweto side any favours when they meet in a Premiership fixture at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
The league newcomers have impressed so far this season with five victories, six draws and three losses, leaving them fifth in the league standings, and Barker said they were looking forward to Saturday's outing.
“When you are as young a squad as we are, sometimes the players are fearful,” Barker said on Thursday.
“We have tried to instill that in them. They have to respect opposition sides like the one we play on Saturday.
“But we can't be fearful of Chiefs. We don't have much to lose on Saturday, we have got ourselves in a good position so far and any points we can get would be a bonus for us.
“We are not going there thinking that we can't get a result, we have a possibility of getting a result.”
Barker said AmaTuks were close to achieving their ambitions for the first half of the Premiership campaign, setting themselves the target of winning as many points as possible in order to stay clear of the relegation zone.
“A point against Chiefs would be massive for us,” Barker said.
“We have tried to set ourselves a target of getting as close to 25 points before the Christmas break as possible, and we have 21.
“We are four short, so anything from Saturday's game and from our next league game on Tuesday, we'll take.
“We can and will create our own chances and if we are clinical in front of goal, we can score.”
Tuks head into the clash on the back of a 1-0 victory over fellow rookies Chippa United last week, while Chiefs were held to a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby.
With the encounter taking place at the country's largest sporting venue, Barker said his players were relishing the opportunity to play in front of a big AmaKhosi contingent.
“It's a definite test for us, but we want to be in this league and we want to play against teams like Chiefs,” he said.
“Boyhood dreams are coming through (for the Tuks players). Many of our players grew up wanting to play for Kaizer Chiefs one day.
“There won't be any lack of motivation or willingness to impress.”
With Chiefs possessing both of the league's top goal-scorers in Bernard Parker and Lehlohonolo Majoro, Barker admitted that Tuks would have to be solid in defence, while remaining positive in front of goal.
“Chiefs are a big threat going forward. Stuart Baxter has got their transition play looking very positive.
“There are plenty of options for Chiefs. Majoro has his qualities, but we've planned, hopefully, to combat those.
“Parker has his qualities, and (Siphiwe) Tshabalala and (George) Lebese will probably start on the flanks and come inside to cause problems for us.
“We definitely have worked defensively, so hopefully we can be defensively well organised, frustrate them and compete.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, Black Leopards host Free State Stars in Polokwane, Chippa United take on AmaZulu in a log-bottom clash in Cape Town, SuperSport United entertain Platinum Stars in Atteridgeville, and Wits square up against Mamelodi Sundowns in Johannesburg.
On Sunday, Golden Arrows host Ajax Cape Town in Umlazi and Bloemfontein Celtic face Moroka Swallows in Botshabelo.
On Friday night, high-flying Maritzburg United were set to take on Orlando Pirates in Pietermaritzburg. – Sapa