JOHANNESBURG – Milutin Sredojevic returned to Orlando Pirates on Thursday, just over a decade after he guided the club to the semi-final of the 2016 Caf Champions League, looking to settle an old score.
Sredojevic joined the Buccaneers on a three-year contract.
“As a sportsman, you always want the best, I believe that I have unfinished business here,” Sredojevic said.
“The moment I left, the chairman told me that I have a life contract here at Pirates. He said you can go and improve yourself, but this will always be your home. He is a walking legend in African football. I did that, and I am now back.”
Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza finally got his man, revealing that the Serbian is the coach he had wanted to take over from Augusto Palacios, who served in the interim after Muhsin Ertugral’s abrupt resignation in November last year.
The Buccaneers were deterred by the buy-out clause the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) placed on Sredojevic, forcing Pirates to go with their second option, Kjell Jonevret.
The Swedish coach lasted just over five months before resigning on Wednesday.
Four days before that, Sredojevic had resigned from his post as Uganda national team coach, citing unpaid salaries, to pave the way for his return to Pirates.
Khoza will sit with the new coach to draw up the technical team that will assist him. Sredojevic is looking to become only the second coach in just over a decade to see out his contract at Pirates.
Ruud Krol remains the only man to have stayed the duration of the three-year contract that the club normally gives its coaches in the last 10 years.
“All of us want our coaches to stay long in our teams,” Khoza said. “We do everything in our power (to make them stay for a long time).
Dr Khoza: "We are hoping to finalize one or two signings before the start of the season in key positions"
“I remember with Eric Tinkler… I never wanted him to go, and I am happy he has admitted to people that I wanted him to stay. But the kitchen was too hot for him because the team by its nature is a pressure-cooker. We tried to say ‘Hold on’.
“It’s a question of how ready you are because this journey, if you are mediocre, will test you and you will burn quick.
“It needs people who are ahead of the competition because this is a dynamic game that develops every day. You can’t dry today’s washing with yesterday’s sun. You can’t.”
Khoza also revealed that the club’s captain Oupa Manyisa will join Mamelodi Sundowns on a swap deal involving a yet-to-be-confirmed player.
Pirates and the Brazilians will tie up the loose ends of that deal and finalise it before Pirates start their league campaign against Chippa United on August 19.