AmaTuks prepared to suffer off the ball against Baroka

DELANO Abrahams of University of Pretoria celebrates a goal with teammates during the Motsepe Foundation Championship match. | BackpagePix

DELANO Abrahams of University of Pretoria celebrates a goal with teammates during the Motsepe Foundation Championship match. | BackpagePix

Published May 18, 2024



UNIVERSITY of Pretoria are in pole position for the promotional play-offs as they head to their last match of the season against Baroka FC also in the race for one of the two places in the quest for a spot in the DSTV Premiership.

AmaTuks though are on a six-match winless streak as they go into the win-at-all-cost clash at the Tuks Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off), a factor that will no doubt give Bakgaga confidence they can get maximum points.

The university outfit experienced a challenging end to their campaign, losing twice and drawing on four occasions but they have managed to hold on to the second spot behind already promoted Magesi FC.

They have homeground advantage plus a two point lead over Bakgaga and need only avoid defeat to secure one of the two play-off spots for the Motsepe Foundation Championship against the second-bottom team from the elite league.

“Our preparation has been going accordingly. We are aware we will be playing against an organised team, a well-coached team, and we are aware that tactically we have to be focused and pay attention to detail. We know what to expect and we know what is expected from us and we understand the difficulty of this match,” said Tlesitso Motaung, coach of AmaTuks.

“Any team would be concerned to play six matches without a win, but equally the good thing has been that we collected four points. In the match away to Black Leopards we scored two goals but we didn’t defend well against JDR (Stars) we got the lead but we didn’t protect it. It is encouraging that through everything we still manage to find the back of the net but the key now is how we get three points in this match.”

He is pleased though that they are in the driving seat with 90 minutes of the season remaining.

“The two point gap does give us an edge, but it comes with pressure because they (Baroka) are going to come at us guns blazing. We will have to decide whether we sit back or open the gate.”

The two teams drew 1-1 in the first round and the same result tomorrow would be enough for the Pretoria-based side to advance to the next phase of their journey back to the PSL. Motaung believes they have learned a lot from that first fixture and recognises they will be up against a team that never gives up.

Initially involved in a heated scrap with Magesi FC for the title, AmaTuks were one point away from the top in mid April with only seven games to go. Their extended poor run of form has seen them fail to even secure second position leaving the door open for a potential upset on the final day.

“We needed at least two wins from the four draws. It becomes even more difficult now because this match holds our fate, it becomes extremely important for us to really pay attention to details. We have to be disciplined in our application, we have to be prepared to suffer off the ball.

“We need to manage all phases of the game, it’s a slight advantage but on the day it won’t matter, what will matter is our performance and application,” he concluded.

Without any doubt this will be AmaTuks biggest game of the season and with the advantage they have, their road will be tougher with Premiership side (likely to be Richards Bay or Royal).