JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates bright start to 2018 had a sprinkling of good laced with the bad which is why coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic isn’t getting carried away.
The Buccaneers demolished Baroka FC in less than half-an-hour in their first match of the year but then they relaxed and opened door for Bakgaga to come back. The side from Ga-Mphahlele didn’t have the killer instinct that would have put the Buccaneers in trouble due to them switching off. Pirates held on to win 3-1 on Saturday at Orlando Stadium.
“The way we played in the first 30 minutes is the bench mark of how we would like to play,” Sredojevic said. “The key question now is can we extend that performance to 45 minutes, 60 and then 90 minutes? But with that said, no team can dominate their opponents from the first whistle until the last in such a competitive league.
"We need to manage the game better. This is a process. We are still a work in progress. I want to give credit to the players. They worked very hard. They are proud boys and great gentleman.”
Sredojevic continued, “We want to be happy and get good results. We have been trying to inject a positive mind-set to ensure that someone pays for our misses in previous matches. We are still far from where we are supposed to be. But a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. This win is history now. We will look at what we did right and try to rectify what we did wrong before our match against (Mamelodi) Sundowns.”
The Brazilians at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday will give Pirates a bigger challenge than Baroka. But the Buccaneers will go into that encounter confident having scored three goals in a game for the first time under Sredojevic. Another source of confidence will be how Pirates fought their way back against Sundowns in the first round at Orlando Stadium. The 2016 African champions looked like they would wipe the floor with the Soweto giants after scoring two quick goals including a stunning strike from the halfway line by Hlompho Kekana. Sredojevic’s men regrouped and held their own in the second half.
“If our conversion rate was better, we would be far,” Sredojevic said. “We have drawn eight matches, out of those matches six should have been easy wins for us if we were more clinical upfront. If that happened, we would be talking a totally different story. But we can’t cry over spilt milk. We went on the break disappointed. We refreshed the team physically and mentally.”
Pirates have slowly been working their way out of their disastrous performance of last season. While they might be better than the side they were in the last campaign, they are still far from where they need to be to meet the high expectations of their fans. It’s a fact that “Micho” isn’t afraid to mention, constantly saying that they are a work in progress.
“People come to the stadium for the same reasons they go to the hospital, looking to be healed in their souls,” Sredojevic said. “I want us to heal their souls and make them happy. We have entered the New Year with a new spirit. We haven’t arrived though because in a big club when you win it’s normal, when you draw there are huge question marks and when you lose there is a revolution.”