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Sports & Off The Pitch
Mar 7 2013 12:48PM
Barker eager for Premiership break
AmaTuks boss Steve Barker is looking forward to taking a break from league action. Picture: Gallo Images
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AmaTuks boss Steve Barker is looking forward to taking a break from league action, following his side's goalless draw with Ajax Cape Town in Pretoria on Wednesday evening.

Despite thumping Ajax Cape Town 5-1 earlier in the season, the university side failed to take advantage of the struggling visitors, who are languishing in the Absa Premiership relegation zone, two points ahead of log-bottom Chippa United.

The stalemate stretched Tuks' run to seven winless matches in succession, but they are among the teams taking a rest next week after their elimination from the Nedbank Cup.

"We've got six injuries to players that were key to our team at the beginning of the season, so we've been stretched a bit," Barker said.

"We'll be back to being able to choose from 28 players instead of the 21 or 22 that we've had to choose from.

"So for us it's a welcome break. It's been a tough couple of days and we are looking forward to the break."

Barker said he had given the players four days off in order to let them get a mental and physical break.

"We have nine tough games left but we are more than confident that we've got a couple of wins left in us to ensure that we get past the 32-point mark," he said.

Barker believed Tuks had endured a tougher run of fixtures than Ajax, who last played on February 22 in a Nedbank Cup first-round tie against Sundowns, while the Pretoria side had played three games since that date.

"The character of the players has been amazing. Ajax last played a week-and-a-half ago in the Nedbank Cup against Sundowns.

"We played the following day, then we played midweek against SuperSport United and we played on Sunday against Platinum Stars.

"So we've had three games in the space since they (Ajax) last played.

"I've had to play the same starting line-up for the last four games in the space of 11 days and the effort the players have put in -- you could see we've had a couple of hard games behind us.

"So I think the character that we are showing is something that I'm proud of."

Meanwhile, Ajax interim coach Jan Versleijen criticised his outfit's performance in front of goal, where his attackers failed to find the back of the net.

"It was not a good game. Tuks like to use their number nine (Mame Niang) to play the long ball and play around him, picking up the second ball," Versleijen said.

"We actually fell into the same style. We didn't play our game, we didn't use the midfield and our strikers were always up against two or three defenders.

"So we almost didn't have any opportunities to break them open, and that's what we should do.

"When you have the ball, use your midfield, find your combinations and try to penetrate in the penalty box, and that didn't happen."
- Sapa

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