He felt that the occasion of the Soweto Derby had “locked the legs” of his players initially, but Orlando Pirates coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic praised his team’s fighting spirit in beating Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in the Soweto Derby.
Pirates conceded early on Saturday as Khama Billiat pounced on a mistake by goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane, who was unable to claim a cross from Godfrey Walusimbi.
As Billiat ran across the Buccaneers shot-stopper, he got a slight touch to the ball with a header, and Mpontshane spilled the ball in the process, which saw the Kaizer Chiefs star walk the ball into the net in the 16th minute.
Itumeleng Khune then also produced a moment of magic to save a penalty from Justin Shonga in the 27th minute.
But it didn’t take long for Pirates to hit back at the FNB Stadium, with Innocent Maela rising high to head home a corner soon afterwards, and then Vincent Pule rounded off in the 32nd minute after Chiefs defender Mario Booysen scuffed a clearance out of the box.
“The biggest game of South African football always comes with tension, pressure, stress. We have worked very hard during the week, and we plan from the start to keep the concentration,” Sredojevic told SuperSport in a post-match interview.
“However, it was not meant to be in the first 20 minutes – we have not been ourselves. It looked like the occasion locked our legs, and we went one goal down.
“Then, we came out and got that penalty. And when the team misses a penalty, then it’s very hard to come back. But unbelievable character of our players – worked very hard, we scored two goals quick.
“Then later on, the opponent will come out, and we had some weaknesses, especially in front of the defence – that area was always exposed. We (tried) to fix this at halftime to protect the lead very well and win this game.”
⚽️ K. Billiat 15'
🧤 I. Khune 26'
⚽️ I. Maela 29'
⚽️ V. Pule 32'
Pirates' thrilling victory over rivals Chiefs in the #SowetoDerby sees the Buccaneers climb to second spot in the #AbsaPrem 🇿🇦
Watch all the #SowetoDerby highlights here >> https://t.co/MTgdqKeyI7 pic.twitter.com/4CDzIRGsI3
But Sredojevic warned his team not to get too excited about the victory, as they are chasing honours in the league, Telkom Knockout and will start their Caf Champions League campaign soon as well.
“Respect to Chiefs, they tried their best. But we must be firmly on the ground and not get carried away, as we have the league and Telkom Cup ahead of us. The best of Orlando Pirates is yet to come.”