Pirates seek to end unbeaten record of newcomers and go second
Pretoria University might believe they have been in a quasi-dream land over the last weeks as they have started a first ever season in the Premier Soccer League in scintillating form but a nightmare fall back down to earth could well await them on Sunday.
AmaTuks, who won last season’s National First Division, host the league champions Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria in their toughest game to date and with their unbeaten record at stake.
Steve Barker’s side are without a home win but have seen a phenomenal three away successes catapult them to an unexpected second place in the standings – four points behind Kaizer Chiefs.
"Honestly, sometimes it is difficult to believe and hard to take it all in," he said.
"Maybe I should take a photograph of that log and frame it because not only are we second on the table, but we are also above our more illustrious Pretoria neighbours (Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United). This does not happen every day, does it?" he asked reporters this week.
But the momentum will come under severe scrutiny from the champions, seeking to keep up their challenge on leaders and arch rivals Chiefs.
Pirates are fourth – six points off the pace, which coach Roger de Sa says is of a concern and a gap he is hoping to close.
“For me, I’d like to stay in closer touch and losing to Celtic was a setback for us,” he added in reflecting on the 0-1 defeat in the Free State capital last Sunday.
“Chiefs have set the tone for everyone and the pace and we must now look to catch them,” he added.
Success for Pirates would ensure they are second in the standings after seven matches, still less than a quarter of the new campaign gone.