JOHANNESBURG – It’s been a four-year barren run for Orlando Pirates since their last silverware came in the Nedbank Cup in May 2014.
Hence, coach Milutin “Micho’’ Sredojevic is aware he’s in a race against time to bring back glory days to the Buccaneers’ camp.
In the 2017/2018 season, they achieved the mandate of reconstruction and building for the current campaign – as they finished second on the log standings.
This season, they’ve already missed out of the MTN8.
However, making the last four of the ongoing Telkom Knockout, where they’ll face arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs this afternoon at Moses Mabhida Stadium (3pm), offers them a chance revive their winning aspirations.
“We will not leave any stones unturned, and we’ll stretch ourselves overall in human and sports limits,” Sredojevic explained.
“We have to return the smile to the faces of our people – the supporters. They are the driving force that is keeping us moving – and in respect to what we have done this year – we want to do more.
“All the support that we got from them is something that is pushing us, we’ll go all out and give the best and use the talent for our supporters.”
Chiefs, too, are chasing their first piece of silverware in three years. However, while many will deem Pirates as favourites coming into today’s derby, Sredojevic is not fazed.
Although he’s assured the Bucs’ faithful that they’ll go all out, he’s still wary of the danger posed by Chiefs playmaker Khama Billiat.
“In the nature of sport and life, there’s something that they call ‘laws of averages’. Whatever was good in those two recent derby wins, we’ll keep,” Sredojevic said.
“We are fully aware that the opponent is eager to make up for last time, but we need to be on our toes and not on the flat foot.
“We need to be fully aware we are playing a team that has top-quality individuals – Itumeleng Khune is one of best goalkeepers in the world. Khama Billiat is one of the players who could be playing in Europe.”
A cup competition without a return leg, always demands penalty preparations from both teams. However, for the Sea Robbers, the ‘lottery of penalties’ hasn’t always been in their favour.
In the 2015 Telkom semi-finals Amakhosi won 6-5 on penalties after the match ended 0-0 on regulation time, against the Bucs.
“Someone recently told me that eight out of 10 times, Pirates haven’t gone through on penalties. Knowing that there’s a thin line between succeeding and failing, we want to do anything possible against top-class opposition like Chiefs to finish the job in 90 minutes,” Sredojevic said.
“If it comes to penalties, it is a triple-readiness, because eventually anything in football can happen, so we are ready for anything in that regard.”@Mihlalibaleka