Amatuks ready

ABSA Premiership new boys University of Pretoria's four years of planning for top-flight football has prepared them, at least mentally, for life in the fast lane.

AmaTuks, who made the most of the impressive High Performance Centre at the university, will begin their mission to stay up with a home clash against Maritz- burg United.

That will be followed by matches against Lamontville Golden Arrows (away) and their first derby with SuperSport United.

AmaTuks coach Steve Barker, a nephew of Bafana Bafana's 1996 Africa Cup of Nations-winning mentor, Clive, aims to make the Premiership his new home.

The players and management, according to Barker, have learnt from past debutants Vasco da Gama, who were relegated at the end of their first season.

He said AmaTuks have been in pre-season for three weeks ahead of the August 12 league kickoff.

"We are under no illusions about how tough it is going to be in our first season. But we have been planning this for four years and are prepared for it," the coach said.

"Obviously, we want to aim as high as possible, even a top-eight finish. We can set no lower targets for ourselves."

Barker was also relieved that the club was able to hold on to players who starred in their promotion from the National First Division to the Premier League.

Tuks started slowly when the club was formed in 2003, serving only as a feeder team to Pretoria rivals Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United. Only when Barker took over from Sammy Troughton in 2008 did their top-flight ambitions become a project instead of mere corridor conversation.

Barker said despite having finally made it into the PSL, the club would be foolish not to have planned how to stay up.

"It's been a long-term desire and we know there will be some mistakes, but hopefully they will not be costly enough to see this (Premier League status) being a once-off thing," said Barker.

To prepare, the coach has roped in experienced midfielder Dipsy Selolwane from SuperSport and defender Vincent Kobola from relegated Jomo Cosmos.

Tuks have also signed David Radebe, the top scorer in the first division.