JOHANNESBURG – Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is sticking to his guns about the Absa Premiership title race, not promising anything until the fat lady has belted out her last note.
“Nobody has ever won anything by talking,” said the Orlando Pirates coach yesterday after picking up the Coach of the Month award for January.
It was a rare sight to see a Pirates coach on the podium being handed this accolade, Sredojevic’s predecessors having struggled to stabilise the club since it won the championship six years ago and therefore not being considered for such compliments.
He talked a little bit in riddles when asked if the personal gong was a boost ahead of an intriguing title race in the remaining nine matches of the season. Pirates are currently in third place, five points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
“Instead of coming here and talking big and promising and threatening that we will go on and win the title, I would rather go to the drawing board together with my technical team and pay attention to details - where we are failing and succeeding,” said Sredojevic.
“I can’t reveal our strategy as then it will not be fair to the players because they should know before anybody else how we are going to approach the remaining matches. But I can assure you that we are going to approach every single match with integrity. We have important matches against big teams and for me these games are six pointers because it feels like the points are double when you win.”
The Buccaneers are away to Chippa United on Sunday before hosting Kaizer Chiefs a week later. It could very well be a defining week, especially their game against Amakhosi as it will have a bearing on the title race.
Pirates were not in action at the weekend and lost second place to Chiefs, who beat Cape Town City 1-0 on Saturday. Sredojevic, like those before him in the last year or so as Pirates coaches, has been adamant that the team needs to overcome the mental scars of having come so close to being dragged into the relegation dogfight last season, ending the campaign in 11th place and having appointed three different coaches by the end of it.
The second half of this season, however, has suggested that perhaps those wounds have properly healed as the Buccaneers look clinical and are enjoying a more convincing second part of the campaign, hence the Coach of the Month award.
“I have so much confidence in the players and the work we are doing. These are the ingredients that will help us to be contenders for the league and the Cup (Nedbank Cup),” Sredojevic said.
“We have the highest obligation to our supporters. We have a rich history behind us and in a few weeks we will know who will be champions. There is one invisible match that we are playing outside the field of play. People are seeing the one on the pitch when they are watching from home or at the stadium, but behind the scenes we are playing a more difficult one - what we do in training is supposed to be mirrored on the field of play.”