Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic knows his team has the good to beat Ajax Cape Town. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
The charismatic Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic opted for an inventive pose with the Nedbank Cup on Thursday, hugging the trophy with the skull and crossbones sign of Orlando Pirates.

That pose put the trophy right in the heart of the Serbian coach, which is quite fitting due to the relationship he has with the country’s premier knockout competition.

Sredojevic has won this cup in every country he has coached in on the continent. He lifted the Ugandan Cup with Sports Cup Villa in 2002, with Saint George in Ethiopia in 2009 and in Sudan with Al-Hilal in 2011.

“This is a special cup, the national cup, I have a good relationship with it,” Sredojevic said.

“I have won this trophy everywhere I have coached (a club in Africa) and I would like to continue with that in South Africa. This country has a strong relationship with trophies.

“The league might be the main course but the cups are good meals to have in between. They add spice to the league.”

Sredojevic starts his quest for his fourth national cup in four different countries tonight in the Buccaneers’ clash with Ajax Cape Town at Orlando Stadium in the Nedbank Cup last 32.

The Sea Robbers are on the brink of four trophy-less seasons since lifting the Nedbank Cup in 2014.

“The Ghost” might understand that the club is a work in progress, as they aim to move away from last season’s disastrous campaign, but they also expect the Buccaneers to compete for every silverware on offer.

Pirates’ fans have slowly been finding their voices, especially at Orlando Stadium to push their team to greater heights.

“Our supporters are the spiritual owners of the team for all these long 80 years,” Sredojevic said.

“We feel their prayers, support and their demands. They are probably the most demanding supporters in African football. Their high demands push us to stretch ourselves to all human and sport limits to perform at our best.

“We are very happy that they have recognised the work we are doing to put the team where they would like us to be.

“As a (Pirates) supporter myself, I feel for them. I don’t feel pressure but an extreme amount of responsibility together with the technical staff and the players to give them the best possible product.” The product has slowly been coming along in the six months that Sredojevic has been in charge of the Buccaneers since replacing Kjell Jonevret, who looked out of his depth.

“Those six months are a process,” Sredojevic said.

“I would say that in that process things could have gone much better. That motivates us to want to do more.

“I believe that we have laid a good foundation and platform to build on what we would like to achieve.”

The Urban Warriors and their reinforced defence will give the Buccaneers a tough test. The Capetonians showed great discipline in their last meeting with Pirates, containing their attack and hit them hard with the limited chances they created.

The Sea Robbers could stomach that defeat since it came in the marathon that is the league, arguing that they can make up for it in the upcoming matches.

But they can’t afford to lose to Ajax tonight in what is their only realistic chance of silverware with the league looking like a stretch too far in Sredojevic’s first season.

That weight of expectation doesn’t bother the Serbian.

“There is only one person who could put pressure on me, and he is somewhere there in the sky,” Sredojevic said.

“I really feel pressure from him to be responsible. But in everything else I do, there is no pressure.

“I would say that pressure is the fuel that drives us in football. If you can’t handle that, then you need to change the profession.”


Saturday Star

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