JOHANNESBURG – While Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic looks back at his first six months in charge of Orlando Pirates with pride, but underneath, that there is a sense of under-achievement.
The Serbian coach inherited a team that was low on confidence after they were battered and bruised from last season’s disastrous campaign that saw the Buccaneers ship six goals in a single match twice, before finishing outside the top eight for the first time in the club’s history in the PSL era.
The positive for him when he took over the Buccaneers in August last year was that they couldn’t get any lower than that.
But picking them up from that sorry state was going to be challenging as he first needed to improve their mental strength, helping them lose their timid nature, before he could even go into their tactical approach.
“I would say that every single day that passes gives us another chance to develop and improve individually and as a team,” Sredojevic said.
“What’s pushing us is that we have a vision of what our final product should be like. We are working towards achieving that.
“We have laid a strong foundation with deciding which game model we should go with. I am happy that we have returned to playing like a big club by dominating our opponents.
“That was our first target when the season started, and after dominating our opponents, the next target is to score.
“We are happy with what we have achieved until now, but we are not happy with the (speed) of the progress because we wanted things to happen as fast as possible.
“We are still far from where we are supposed to be, but we are firmly, firmly on the right path. We are ready for the challenge that’s in front of us.”
Ajax Cape Town at Orlando Stadium in the Nedbank Cup last-32 is the Buccaneers’ next challenge on Saturday night.
The Urban Warriors reminded the Soweto giant that they still aren’t out of the woods yet by stunning them to a 3-0 defeat in the Mother City.
Pirates were let down by their finishing in the match they dominated, but struggled to breach a strong defence.
Sredojevic went back to the drawing board and returned with a sound plan of how to breach tight defences and got the better of Maritzburg United, who had the best defensive record in the country before their clash.
The Buccaneers will look to continue with that scoring form against Ajax, even though they will be without Musa Nyatama who is suspended, while Luvuyo Memela, Thabiso Kutumela and Mpho Makola are doubtful as they are carrying minor knocks.
Abbubaker Mobara will definitely not face his former team as the rehab he is undergoing is likely to see him return to action next week.
What counts in the Buccaneers’ favour is that they will be playing at home, a venue they are slowly turning into a fortress like the back-to-back domestic treble winning generation did.
“Playing at Orlando Stadium is an emotional element, it’s like a hospital where we are healing the souls of our supporters,” Sredojevic said.
“With that responsibility, you can feel it in the air when you arrive at the stadium that we are home.
“This is an additional injection that pushes all of us to give out our best.”