PRETORIA University coach Steve Barker believes his team’s current slump is a learning curve that will stand them in good stead in the seasons to come.
Following their 1-0 loss to Absa Premiership side SuperSport United at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday, Barker said his side were not on the same path as that of Vasco Da Gama two seasons ago.
The Cape team had an excellent first half in the 2010-11 season after being promoted from the first division, but got into a rut in the second half and ended up being relegated.
Saturday’s defeat in the Tshwane derby made it five matches without a win for Tuks, who also dropped out of the top eight. "Ja, no, look, we will survive — there’s no doubt in my mind about that. What is pleasing is that the players are getting tested," Barker said after that defeat.
"Whereas, in the beginning of the season, when it was going well, the players might have thought they had arrived, they are now coming out that thinking. You could see Thabo Mosadi, starting on the right — he’s got great ability but he’s playing against a seasoned international full-back (Innocent Mdledle).
"My players are finding their feet and we will come out of this going from strength to strength from next season.
"But even now, there are 11 games to go and I still think any team can finish in the top eight. But the season is starting to take its shape in terms of sides like Swallows, SuperSport and Sundowns moving into the top eight, so we’re under no illusions it will be easy."
If anything, Tuks created more chances than SuperSport, who scored when Magogi Gabonamong headed in Franklin Cale’s 76th-minute free kick.
Barker said his side missed the presence of top scorer Mame Niang, who was bound in his loan contract from playing against SuperSport.
"Coming from the first division you don’t have a lot of time, you have to offer contracts to players when you’re not sure if you are going to be in the PSL (Premier Soccer League) or not. So we had to make some loan signings. Some of these clubs are wise to it — he’s not good enough to play for them, but they’re scared when he has to play against them. And when you’re a bit of a beggar and not a chooser you’ve got to take these conditions."
On Wednesday night Tembu Royals survived a 30-minute AmaZulu second-half onslaught to win 2-1 and progress into the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup.