KWAZI SOKHELA AND HUVASAN REDDY
The UP football team (AmaTuks) first won promotion to the National First Division (NFD) in 2005. By 2006, 7 Tuks players had been selected by the national men’s and women’s teams. AmaTuks won the 2011-12 NFD season, which granted them automatic promotion to the Premier Soccer League (PSL), the countries premier football division. In their first season in the top-flight, AmaTuks managed to finish in 8th place. AmaTuks was relegated in mid-2016, after spending 3 seasons in South Africa’s premier league, returning to the NFD in June 2016.
Upon their return to the NFD, AmaTuks are currently placed in 9th position on the NFD log (out of the 16 teams in the league) with 21 points after the first half of the season.
Following their return to second tier football in the country, their campaign so far has seen them notch up 6 wins, 3 draws and suffer 6 defeats. For the most part of their campaign Amatuks have been languishing in mid-table positions. After 15 games AmaTuks currently find themselves 14 points away from runaway leaders Thanda Royal Zulu FC (35 points), who will guarantee themselves automatic promotion to the PSL if they manage to maintain their lead till the end of the season.
Despite the substantial points difference that Thanda Royal Zulu FC possess, AmaTuks are engrossed in a tight battle with their adversaries who currently sit above them in the table. Only 5 points separate Royal Eagles who sit in 2nd place and Mbombela United who sit 10th. Subsequently AmaTuks are only 3 points behind of Witbank Spurs (3rd) and only a further 4 points behind of Royal Eagles (2nd), and are still very much in contention to finish in either second or third. Both Royal Eagles and Witbank Spurs currently occupy positions that would grant them qualification to compete in the promotion/relegation play-offs, should they stay there by the end of the season, with the team that finishes second from bottom of the log in the 2016/17 PSL season. Where they will have the chance to play for promotion to the PSL.
The month of January also sees the opening of the transfer window, whereby Coach Shaun Bartlett will be considering his options to strengthen and bolster his squad before tackling the remaining 15 games of the season. AmaTuks will be looking for a more consistent and stronger showing in the second half of the season, in their attempt to continue their journey back up to the PSL.
After a brief hiatus, NFD action will resume on the 11th of February when AmaTuks will kick-off the second half of their season when they host AmaZulu in Pretoria at the Tuks Stadium.