AmaTuks are one for the books

2011-12-23 14:34

The single stream format seems to be what the doctor ordered for the National First Division (NFD).

With all 16 clubs now afforded an equal number of home matches and extra nine matches in a season – as opposed to the previous 21 matches – the level of competition has increased.

Just about half-way into the 2011/12 campaign, four clubs have pushed ahead as strong candidates for promotion, while eight clubs in the bottom half of the 16-club log table are stuck in the relegation zone.

Log leaders Pretoria University went into the festive break with a two-point lead over second placed Thanda Royal Zulu.

After coming close to promotion on three occasions, AmaTuks – as the Pretoria-based club is called – believe they are nearing their goal this time.

Coach Steve Barker’s side ended the year unbeaten after 20 matches in all competitions. Thanda is the only other club that is undefeated to date, but only in the league campaign.

AmaTuks reached the promotional play-offs final four years ago and came short during the 2008/09 and 2010/11 seasons.

Having knocked on the promotion door, Barker believes it is just a matter of time before the club “arrives in the Promised Land”.

“We have players with the right attitude and the club’s good run is a result of the good foundation we’ve laid. Without really getting ahead of ourselves, we stand a good chance.”

Barker has predicted that: “No one besides the top four will win the league.”

There is little difference in points between AmaTuks, Thanda, Vasco da Gama and Blackburn Rovers. And as Barker puts it: “Only a consistent side will win it.”

On the flip-side, clubs at the bottom half of the table are trapped in the relegation zone.

Interestingly, the Mpumalanga province hopefuls – Black Aces and Witbank Spurs – are rooted at 15th and 16th respectively.

Upstarts Sivutsa Stars, who are also from the coal-producing province, are not far from the quagmire.

In contrast, other rookies Chippa United have enjoyed a fairytale run in their debut season. Although they are still chasing a win on the road, the Cape Town-based club has collected 19 points out of a possible 24 in eight matches – registering six wins, a draw and a loss – at home.

Elsewhere, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for Limpopo clubs Dynamos and Bay United who are yet to elicit hope in their supporters.

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