“You walk into the change room and you look into the faces of the players, and you see they feel the pain of the results. They are suffering and they know that it is not good enough – that is encouraging,” said Rhulani Mokwena. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

It has been a week of hell for Orlando Pirates fans.

First their beloved team lost in the Caf Champions League in Zambia, which was followed by a 3-0 humbling at the hands of SuperSport United in the league.

Then came the massive bombshell – coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic quit the club on Friday night, less than 24 hours before the Buccaneers had to face Highlands Park in the MTN8 quarter-finals.

With all the uncertainty around the team, it was not surprising that they went down 1-0 to the Lions of the North at Orlando Stadium.

Now they head to KwaZulu-Natal to take on AmaZulu at the King Zwelithini Stadium in uMlazi on Tuesday night (7.30pm).

At least Pirates have a good recent record against Usuthu, having lost only twice in 18 matches across all competitions.

New head coach Rhulani Mokwena spoke after the Highlands Park defeat about the tough task of getting the team back to their best following the sudden departure of Sredojevic, and expressed sympathy with the players.

“A lot of senior players (have also) left (recently), so you have less leadership in the group, and have to develop new leaders, which takes a bit of time,” Mokwena said at the post-match press conference.

“There is now a change in the technical leadership as well, which is not the easiest period for any club to undergo.

“But we are very gracious in the defeat. We know we can and must do better, and be more competitive on the pitch to deserve to win games.

“At this moment in time, I am just feeling for the players...

“You walk into the change room and you look into the faces of the players, and you see they feel the pain of the results. They are suffering and they know that it is not good enough – that is encouraging.

“Because, once there is an emotional connotation, you are then able to at least find some form of buttons to press, to be able to help and assist in turning things around quicker than allowing things to continue the way they are.

“I think the signs are good, the players are invested in the club and they fight for the badge.”

Club chairman Irvin Khoza will hope that his team can shrug off a nightmarish last week and a bit, and start afresh against AmaZulu.

@ashfakmohamed


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