JOHANNESBURG - Micho Sredojevic, the Orlando Pirates coach, carefully answered the question about a potential barren season after the Buccaneers had been knocked out of the Nedbank Cup round of 16 by Cape Town City on Wednesday night.
“I don’t want to be drawn into that right now,” he said. “I would rather say our priority was this competition and in the league, we are where we are at present.
"This loss here was a mental setback, but now instead of thinking about times ahead, the total focus and commitment needs to be on working hard to show what material we are building from for Saturday's (league) game against Golden Arrows.”
Quite naturally, the Pirates supporters were livid, bowing out of a cup competition that was perhaps their best chance of winning a trophy after what feels like an eternity - not seeing the club lift silverware since 2014.
With the Buccaneers trailing log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by just four points in the Absa Premiership with only seven matches remaining, there is some hope that Sredojevic could still deliver something special.
The coach, however, has made it clear that his target or mandate is not to go all gung-ho on the championship chase. But has that changed now that the Nedbank Cup has been removed from the equation?
“We have no right to speak about something that is ahead. We are carrying a disappointment of losing the cup game. I am not making excuses, but I don’t want to be drawn into this discussion,” Sredojevic insisted.
There has also been a suggestion Pirates may be destabilised by the request from Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter to have Rhulani Mokwena, the Buccaneers’ second in command, assist him in the national team’s Four Nations camp in Zambia next week.
Sredojevic appeared to first slip in his remarks about what he thought of Mokwena travelling with Bafana to a friendly tournament at a time when Pirates are possibly pushing to take the title race right down to the wire.
“I would tell you, that call-up has come at a wrong time for us because we wanted to keep total peace and concentration,” the Serbian quipped, before adjusting his statement moments later, saying: “I believe coach Rhulani will upgrade himself in Zambia, this is only an absence of a few days.”
Another person who holds the opinion that the Pirates assistant coach going off to Ndola for a couple of days with the national team might not be such a good idea was City coach Benni McCarthy.
“I think this is disabling the Pirates coaching staff,” McCarthy said on Wednesday night. “They must leave Pirates to chase the league title.”