JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Milutin 'Micho’ Sredojevic has called for patience from the club’s fans, stating that their 1-1 draw against Highlands Park at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night presented the first taste of a 30-match dish that they’ve promised to deliver this season.
Pirates were by far the better team, keeping the Absa Premiership returnees from having single shot on target. A blunder from goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands gave the visitors their goal and nearly undid all of the Buccaneers’ good work.
“This is a marathon of 30 matches, so this can be a blessing in disguise because you can still collect points when you have dropped these ones,” the Serbian said. “We’ll try to keep our competitiveness for the rest of the season in the best possible way. I don’t remember the last time Orlando Stadium had this much support. We owe them. And I have a feeling that with effort from everyone we'll give everything going forward.”
After a successful season of reconstruction, many have rallied behind the Sea Robbers as they try to get themselves into the title mix this term. And they would have been disappointed by the outcome against the elite league rookies though all is lost for the Bucs.
After all their direct title competitors Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs also drew 1-1 in their opening match of the season. But when running a marathon race, one usually focuses on themselves not the other person.
“We are dividing the 30 matches into a group of fives,” he explained. “The first five is now in the month of August. We are laying a foundation so that from each group of matches, we want to have 10 points or more. We believe that whatever we have missed on Saturday, we’ll make up for in matches that are left.”
It will not be a walk in the park to get to the 60-point mark though, especially in a congested calendar-year that includes the CAF Champions League, starting in November. But the club has strengthened the squad.
Two of the new signings: Mapaseka Mako and Vincent Pule started on Saturday while Kudakwashe Mahachi and 16-year-old development graduate Augustine Mahlonoko also got a run. The 48-year-old coach has heaped praise on the newbies for their performances and extends his gratitude to the work they’ve put in during the pre-season camps.
“We have already built a strong bond between players that are new and those that have been with the team,” the coach insisted. “I need to give absolute credit to players that have long been with us because they’ve extended their hand and helped them settle.”@mihlalibaleka