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Football | Absa Premiership

Steve Barker © Backpagepix

Barker bemoans ref's decisions



University of Pretoria boss Steve Barker insisted his players were unlucky not to claim all three points because of poor refereeing decisions in their 1-1 Premiership draw with Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

AmaTuks came from a goal down early in the first half to level matters before the halftime break in Pretoria, but they could have held the lead if not for a dubious decision by referee Lwandile Mfiki not to award a penalty in the opening period.

Midfielder Aubrey Ngoma made a darting run into the Sundowns area and was brought down – inside the box – but was awarded a free-kick instead of the penalty by Mfiki, shortly after the Brazilians took the lead through Anthony Laffor.

"I'm a bit disappointed that we weren't able to get the three points," Barker said after the match.

"I thought once they scored the goal, there was only one team in the game (Tuks).

"I don't know what more you can do. It was a clear penalty both in the first half and in the second half.

"You can't do much more than that."

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Barker believed Mfiki should have awarded a second penalty in the second half, as Junior Sibande was also brought down in the area, but the referee ignored the tackle and waved play on.

"Especially in the second half, we created a number of chances and we were a bit unlucky," Barker said.

"What more could we have done today? We dominated the game, we've played well, but decisions went against us."

Barker said he was pleased with his side's performance and praised his team's willingness to come from behind and dominate the rest of the tie.

"I must say, I'm very proud of the players and their efforts," he said.

"Great commitment and good character from the players.

"You can't take that away from the team."

The league encounter was the first between the two Pretoria outfits, although Sundowns beat the newly promoted University side 1-0 when they last met in the first round of the Telkom Knockout last month.

"I thought they outplayed us in the Telkom (Knockout)," Barker said.

"So to come back here at home and put in a performance that we did today, shows that the players believe in themselves.

"The belief grew in the second half, I felt, so it's good to come back from that loss."

Tuks' fourth draw of the season ensured they finished the weekend fifth in the league standings, after 10 rounds of matches, while Sundowns could not do enough to lift themselves off the bottom rung of the ladder.

With the first third of the campaign out of the way, Barker was pleased with the solid start Tuks had made to their first season in the Premiership.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground, we need to keep committed," he said.

"The players need to keep showing the good character that they have been showing and respect each other.

"There's not much else we can do but keep working hard."

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