JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic believes a clearer picture of what his team can do this season and going forward will come out after their clash with Cape Town City on Wednesday.
The Buccaneers visit the Citizens at Cape Town Stadium in the Nedbank Cup last 16 looking to exorcise two demons - the 3-0 thumping they received from Ajax Cape Town in their last trip to the Mother City and chasing silverware to make up for last season’s disastrous campaign.
The Buccaneers have played down their championship credentials in the league despite sitting in second place, four points behind log-leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
But there is no room to hide in a cup competition, unlike the league where teams are judged over a longer period.
“It will be a very good match that will tell us where we are at present (and where we are going), regarding all the things we do on and off the field,” Sredojevic said.
“There is one visible match that will be played out at Cape Town Stadium and there is another invisible match that we wage against ourselves in terms of preparation and doing the right things in order to be theoretically aware about the opponents, to be mentally strong because we know that in cup competitions, it’s very simple - you’re either in or out.
"We have the mental strength that can carry us in that match.”
Sredojevic continued, “We need to be physically fit to answer the questions that will be posed to us by a very good team that’s in contention for the league. This is the biggest match of this Nedbank Cup round.
"It’s a final before the final. We know that there is a demand for us to deliver silverware at the club. We are looking forward to giving our fans tablets to heal their souls for everything that has happened in the past.”
Old and new important to Micho
The Buccaneers come into this match at the back of a 3-1 win over their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby. Pirates took the fight to Amakhosi in an entertaining spectacle that showed how lethal their attack can be. But in a way it was “easy” to do well in that match due to the opponents and the fanfare around the Soweto Derby. Doing the same thing in “lesser” matches will be key.
That win was part of the club’s makeover as they showed good character in not getting overawed by the occasion and being able to deliver. Last season’s Pirates didn’t have this character, wilting easily at the slightest pressure.
Sredojevic and his technical team have changed the make-up of the team with a number of new faces who are taking the Soweto giants forward. But the Serbian argues the old guard still has an important role to play in the club’s transformation.
“They know how it’s like to be on top and they know how it’s like to be at the bottom like we were last season,” Sredojevic said.
“The balance between those two things is helping us to not get carried away. We are doing much better this season but we aren’t relaxed or allowing ourselves to be in a comfort zone.
"In our first camp in Rustenburg and then after when coach Rhulani (Mokwena) arrived we created a family atmosphere among us along with fanatical hard work.
"Those are the main pillars that drive us, fully aware of the 80 years of history of the badge we are carrying. We have gone from strength to strength.”