JOHANNESBURG - Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, with his chest out and a booming voice that filled the room, spoke with confidence about what he believes will help him see out his three-year contract as Orlando Pirates coach.
The Serbian has returned for a second stint at Pirates to replace Kjell Jonevret, who resigned from the post just over five months into it.
The Swede joined a long list of coaches who have failed to see out their contracts at the Buccaneers since Sredojevic’s own short stint that lasted less than a year back in 2006. Only Ruud Krol, who guided the Soweto giants to a domestic treble in the 2010/11 season, lasted three years.
The high turnover of coaches highlights how tough this job is, testing not only the incumbent’s tactical acumen but also their mental resolve.
“I have been on an incredible journey, a football study, in the last 10 and a half years since I left Pirates,” Sredojevic said.
“I believe I gained enough experience to help me reach the club’s ambitions and my own personal ambitions which are huge.
"There is a huge challenge in front of me. But I want to inform you that I am one of a few people who uses fuel called pressure.
"I live for pressure. I have been under pressure since I was born. I come from Yugoslavia (now in the part called Serbia) where we have seen and felt everything.”
Sredojevic continued, “We don’t feel pressure. I feel extremely responsible towards the chairman (Irvin Khoza), the club and the supporters.
"But I don’t feel pressure. I can’t guarantee anything or make major promises. I can only promise to give sweat, blood and tears. To give my all.
"Then we will see how football will pay us back. Judging how football has paid me back since I left South Africa, I am confident that the same formula will pay me back here.”
Micho: "Football is played for supporters and they are our driving force. I promise them blood, tears & hard work" pic.twitter.com/DpJydjMHDX
Sredojevic has achieved a lot on the continent since leaving Pirates after taking them to the semi-finals of the 2006 CAF Champions League.
“Micho” won four league titles, took Uganda to their first Africa Cup of Nations appearance in 39 years, received four Coach-of-the-Year accolades and took Al-Hilal of Sudan to the semi-finals of the 2011 Champions League.
It’s this pedigree on the continent that made Khoza bring the Serbian back to steer the Sea Robbers’ ship that has hit rock bottom.
“I have made my name a brand name on the continent,” Sredojevic said. “If you don’t know what this means, then I invite you to come with me to any of the countries where I have coached to see what I mean to the people.”
Sredojevic means a lot to Khoza. The Pirates chairman revealed that the Serbian is the man he wanted to hire earlier this year to take over from Augusto Palacios, who served in the interim from November to February after Muhsin Ertugral's sudden departure. But Khoza was put-off by the buy-out clause the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) placed on Sredojevic before he resigned on Saturday.
Sredojevic will now sit down with Khoza to pick his technical team and then name a new captain as Oupa Manyisa will join Mamelodi Sundowns in a swap deal.