ISHMAEL MOHLABE

Steve Barker’s AmaTuks side has made a good start to the 2012/2013 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season. Fourth on the log, the team did not lose in their first six games before being beaten by defending champions Orlando Pirates. Perdeby spoke to Barker about the season thus far.

How has the PSL season been for you so far?

It’s obviously been exciting I think. It’s a privilege to be playing in the highest league in the country. [The team and I are] very proud to be representing ourselves at the highest level in the PSL. It’s been a good experience so far.

When you just got promoted to the PSL you said you were not going into the PSL just to add numbers. Why were you so confident?

We have been the club that does things the right way. We have got very good structures from the technical point view and from the management point of view.We have planned for five years to be in the PSL; therefore it would have been prude[nt] for us not to have planned to stay here. I think the foundation we have laid for the past couple of years is the key to our continuous success.

As an experienced coach, how would you describe life in the National First Division (NFD) as opposed to the Premier Soccer League (PSL), in terms of style of play?

It’s a different type of level. NFD is extremely tough, it’s not as technical as PSL, but it’s more demanding in terms of pace. The pace of the game is a lot quicker in the NFD, whereas in the PSL technically [the pace] is at a higher level. So [in the PSL] you do have more space because teams are tactically better organised. If you make mistakes in the PSL, you will get punished as opposed to the NFD where sometimes you can get away with it. For me the biggest difference is that the PSL is a lot more technical and tactical as opposed to the fast-paced NFD.

What are your thoughts on the loss to Orlando Pirates?

We acquitted [sic] ourselves very well in the game, and we showed that we are competitive against one of the best teams in the country. I thought in the first half we held our own quite comfortably. We were unlucky not to go one up when we hit the post. From there the dubious penalty which took a little bit of the wind out of ourselves, and once the game opened up it has suited Orlando Pirates. So we were chasing the equaliser then they caught us for the third goal and basically that was game over. But up until that point I felt the players had done really so well. It’s a learning curve for our players and for ourselves. So we need to learn quickly from it, stand up and go ahead.

What is your target for this first half of the season?

We haven’t set ourselves targets as to where we want to finish. So we just want to take one game at a time and concentrate on that; and then after the first half of the season we will see where we are and then we will re-assess from there.

You will be coming up against Mamelodi Sundowns in the Telkom Knockout. What is your strategy going into this game?

One can’t underestimate Sundowns as they remain a quality team, quality players. I do believe that they have got the ability to turn their season around but at the same time they are under pressure. So we need that work in our favour and it won’t be easy at all, but we need to take advantage of their situation.

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