Micho Sredojevic believes his team can do well in Caf competition. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic has described the Caf Champions League, a tournament the Buccaneers have not participated in since 2013 when they went all the way to the final but lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly, as a “lake with crocodiles”.

But the club supporters should not despair on the back of that remark  their coach also said they can swim in that perilous water.

Sredojevic and his men announced their return in fine fashion midweek, thumping hapless reigning Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits 4-0 at Orlando Stadium in a league fixture that was played behind closed doors as punishment for crowd violence more than a year ago at Loftus Versfeld.

“This is very much a satisfying achievement,” said the coach in his reaction to witnessing Pirates run riot with two goals from Augustine Mulenga, an own goal from Sifiso Hlanti as well as one scored from the penalty spot by Justin Shonga  a result that confirmed them as Champions League participants along with Sundowns next season.

“For African football, this is a lake with many crocodiles but we know how to swim in that lake. We are happy we have brought Pirates back. We will do everything possible to prepare the team to be in the best possible shape so we are not just participants like it was with some (South African) teams, except Sundowns and in certain parts SuperSport United, who reached the (2017 CAF Confederation Cup) final.”

It’s been Sredojevic’s mantra throughout the season, arguing that their focus was never to challenge for the league title but to finish second and qualify for the Champions League, a competition he has enjoyed with other clubs shortly after his brief first spell with Pirates ended rather abruptly in 2006.

The club is also armed with a technical team with the know-how in this space when coach Sredojevic and his assistant Rhulani Mokwena put their heads together. Mokwena played a similar role for Pitso Mosimane when Sundowns became African champions in 2016 and will no doubt be up for the challenge again.

Even as it stands the Buccaneers are only four points behind log leaders Sundowns with two matches remaining and could be crowned champions if the Brazilians fail to collect two points from those outstanding games  and Pirates win theirs, against Cape Town City away from home this afternoon and Free State Stars a week later in Soweto.

But Sredojevic only spoke with conviction when discussing the Champions League, not the PSL. “When we go there we want to fly the South African flag very high, our badge and jersey to represent the country in the best possible way this is our target.”

Saturday Star

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