Aces facing baptism of fire

2013-07-31 20:00
Clive Barker (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Black Aces coach Clive Barker says he will be delighted with a single point this weekend as his newly-promoted team prepare for a baptism of fire against title holders Kaizer Chiefs in the opening game of the Premiership season.

Aces square off against Chiefs at Mbombela Stadium, in Nelspruit, on Friday evening.

"It's very exciting and it should be a great challenge," Barker, who was appointed by the rookies during the off-season, said on Wednesday.

"We were very fortunate to sign some quality players but Friday night is going to be really tough."

Chiefs mentor Stuart Baxter said they were cautious of the newcomers, insisting his side would not place themselves under pressure in the 2013/14 campaign.

Amakhosi lifted the league title for the first time in eight years last season, but Baxter believed more pressure would be placed on teams that had spent a lot of money on new players during the transfer window.

"The pressure on the champions is to make sure you're in the running for trophies," Baxter said.

"But the real pressure is on the people who spend loads of money because a failure in that respect means that much more.

"Teams who succumb to pressure are teams who put themselves under pressure, but our players are fired up and we're looking forward to the new season."

Meanwhile, after a spectacular debut top-flight campaign, which saw them finish eighth in the league standings, University of Pretoria coach Steve Barker said his squad were aiming for gradual improvement.

AmaTuks face Moroka Swallows in their first clash of the new campaign in Dobsonville on Saturday.

"We had a good season but that's in the past and we need to put it behind us," Barker said.

"We know the second season can be more challenging and we've lost a few players.

"It's never easy bringing in a number of new players, so we've worked extra hard to get them to gel together."

While they were not setting themselves lofty goals in the league, Barker said Tuks would start targeting trophies in knockout competitions.

"Our mandate going forward is to improve every season," Barker said.

"That's the way to ensure we keep growing as a club.

"We would like to improve from the baseline we set last season and work from there, but we know there are other factors and it's not always possible.

"We would also like to win a cup either this season or next."

Swallows coach Zeca Marques said the Birds were hoping for more consistency this season after finishing ninth in the previous campaign and losing out on a place in the lucrative MTN8 competition, despite lifting the trophy last season.

"Last year was a roller coaster season for us," Marques said.

"We lost five games in a row which turned our season upside down, but in the second half we were one of the most improved teams, so I think there was more positive than negative.

"We've had a great pre-season and we're very confident about our future."

Read more on:    black aces  |  psl  |  clive barker  |  soccer

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