Johannesburg – Boosted by their triumph in the Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday, a confident Vladimir Vermezovic said he was on the verge of finalising his starting Orlando Pirates team for the coming season.
Pirates' first assignment was scheduled against SuperSport United in the MTN8 first round next weekend.
“I think we are on the right track and I now know that I am close to my starting 11 for the match against SuperSport,” Vermezovic said.
On Saturday, Pirates continued their dominance in the cup over Kaizer Chiefs as they clinched their third title in four attempts, in the preseason challenge.
The Buccaneers beat Chiefs 6-5 in a penalty shoot-out after the derby match ended goalless after 90 minutes of regulation time.
Vermezovic expressed delight with his players' performances on the field of play against their arch rivals.
“We managed to control the game, but unfortunately we could not win it in 90 minutes. I think everyone can be satisfied with the game.”
It was the Serbian coach's second piece of silverware since taking over in March, having guided the club to glory in the Nedbank Cup at the end of last season.
Ahead of the new season, Vermezovic said his side only required minor fine-tuning before they were ready.
“I think we are 80 percent ready for the season. It's time to refresh the team; other teams that are not in the MTN8 have two more weeks of preparation. Unfortunately we only have one week but that's our destiny. When you are a big club you must be ready as soon as possible.”
After reaching the final of four different cup competitions last season, Vermezovic said his charges were still regaining their fitness.
The Amakhosi, meanwhile, were set to take on Mpumalanga Black Aces in the MTN8 next weekend.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter said he was pleased with his side's display against Pirates and their only undoing was the gamble of penalty kicks. “I thought we created better chances, and even though we weren't excellent we were pretty good on the day,” said Baxter after the game.
“Penalties are not our thing.”
Baxter urged the Soweto giants who are on a 13-month cup drought to put up a tougher fight if they want success.
“The difference between winning is five percent… sometimes maybe even less. The players need to get better and we need to improve as a team. We have seen how tough it is to win, because even though we had a good last season, we can't say it was great because we didn't win anything.” – Sapa