Pretoria - University of Pretoria boss Steve Barker says they are nine points away from their Absa Premiership points target, with six matches to play, after claiming a 3-1 victory over AmaZulu at Tuks Stadium on Saturday evening.
Bongani Zungu scored a brace as the top-flight rookies claimed their first win in nine league outings, and ended a run of four consecutive draws, lifting the student side well clear of the relegation zone.
"I was really impressed and very proud of the players once again," Barker said after the game.
"In the first half we made lots of mistakes. Both teams gave the ball away too often.
"We came in at half-time and instructed the players that we had to look to play off Mame Niang, because they (AmaZulu) weren't really coping with him and that led to the two goals in the second half.
"The players deserve the three points that they got today."
The hosts got off to a dismal start when goalkeeper Washington Arubi made a poor mistake in front of goal, gifting Goodman Dlamini with the ball, which the forward put into an empty net courtesy of a fortunate deflection, leaving the goalkeeper stranded and struggling to recover.
Tuks replied through Zungu, who picked out a fine delivery into the box from Niang, which the youngster guided into the back of the net with a well-controlled diving header for his fourth league goal of the season.
"The players showed great character and commitment to come back," Barker said.
"I thought Mame Niang was first class for us… AmaZulu couldn't deal with his height."
Barker said he felt more comfortable after the win, which lifted Tuks to a solid position, lying mid-table, and he believed the victory could prove vital in maintaining their Premiership status next season.
"At the beginning of the season, I wanted to get to 31 points and have games in hand," he said.
"I didn't want it to be one game in hand, I didn't want it to be two - I thought if we could get to 31 points and have five or six games, we would be in a good position to try and reach our target of 40 points.
"We've got 31 points with still six games left. You're never safe until it's mathematically not possible, but it does put us in a position where we can reset our targets a bit.
"We will still be mindful of results behind us, but at the same time, I think we can look above us and one or two positive results in the next couple of games could put us in a position where we could perhaps be challenging for a top eight position."
In Saturday's other fixtures, log leaders Kaizer Chiefs were held to a goalless draw by Golden Arrows, and Platinum Stars thrashed Black Leopards 4-0 to climb to second position in the table, one point ahead of Orlando Pirates who held a game in hand.