JOHANNESBURG - At the heart of the bigger picture that Milutin Sredojevic is painstakingly putting together piece-by-piece at Orlando Pirates is the desire to help the Buccaneers conquer the continent again.
The Serbian, with his vast coaching experience in Africa, has big dreams for the Soweto giants. But before he can realise those dreams, he had to first improve the players’ confidence and pick up the team from their disastrous last campaign. Despite falling short of their targets in the league after 10 matches, Pirates have shown signs of improvement.
“I will tell you what is the bigger picture, or the roof as I call it,” Sredojevic said. “When you see the Orlando Pirates badge, there is one star on top of it (for winning the 1995 African Cup of Champions Clubs, now called the CAF Champions League). My dream is to bring a second star.
"The bigger picture also includes playing an exciting brand of football that will bring our supporters back to Orlando Stadium to enjoy and be proud of the team that they are supporting. All of these to be garnished with positive results because you can talk that you are doing something but results need to follow. Positive results are the best possible way to inject yourself with confidence and to fulfil the mission of writing your name in the history book of this great club.”
Winning the Champions League isn’t something that’s going to happen this year or the following year. Pirates have to first qualify for the 2019 edition. The club’s immediate focus is the Telkom Knockout which gives them an opportunity to bring a trophy to the cabinet for the first time in three years. But Pirates have to first get past Polokwane City on Saturday night at Orlando Stadium in the quarterfinals.
Pirates’ leftback Innocent Maela will be assessed on Friday if he can play after limping off the pitch on Wednesday in the 3-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns. That’s not the biggest call Sredojevic and his technical team have to make. Their choice of goalkeeper is important, especially how they speak to the one who will be on the bench. Wayne Sandilands’ confidence took a knock with how he was beaten by his former team. Dropping him would hit him hard even though the club looked to have picked Jackson Mabokgwane as their cup goalkeeper since he is playing second fiddle to Sandilands in the league.
“I sat next to Sandilands at half-time with my arms around him and I told him to cut the first half with a scissor, forget about it and go back into the field and show his quality,” Sredojevic said. “I did that to reactive him."