JOHANNESBURG - Fort Orlando Pirates, the key to getting a positive result against Cape Town City on Tuesday night at FNB Stadium will lie in finding the right balance between arrogance and humility, coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic believes.
The Buccaneers’ coach has been working on the club’s confidence since he took over after a miserable season that saw Pirates finish outside the top eight for the first time in the PSL-era.
A four-match unbeaten run, during which they collected eight points in the process, is a step in the right direction - especially before they come up against City.
“Cape Town City is a very competitive team coached by my dear colleague Benni McCarthy who has great playing experience and is still new in the coaching industry,” Sredojevic said.
“He is the future of coaching in this country. I have great respect for him. He has brought a great set up. Last season the team did very well. When the downslide was supposed to come, he took them to the final of the MTN8. With that in mind, we need to give them respect when they have the ball and show elements of arrogance when we have the ball.”
Pirates still look jittery in their play, but a win over high-flyers City will go a long way to removing those moments. The players have bought into Sredojevic and his philosophy, won over by his work ethic and how he knew all their names and history in his first session with the club.
“Nothing would happen if the players weren’t responding, fully aware of what happened last season,” Sredojevic said. “They want to redeem themselves. There is an element of pride which is what is driving us. Our main target, before (talking about any) results, is to restore the pride in the badge that we are carrying. A badge that has 80 years and millions of dreams inside it.”
This clash with City will be the Buccaneers’ third game in eight days, the club having hosted Ajax Cape Town last Tuesday before travelling to the Harry Gwala Stadium to take on Maritzburg United on Friday. Sredojevic argues that recovery is the most important aspect of getting the best out of players in such a tight schedule.
The fact that five of the XI players who started at the Team of Choice are either new at the club or new in the starting line-up will put Pirates in a good position. Those players have a lot of energy to give as they look to impress the Serbian and the Ghost. Sredojevic’s approach of changing the starting XI is what the Buccaneers needed. The club relied too much on the bulk of the squad that won them back-to-back domestic trebles five years ago.
“Football defies logic,” Sredojevic said. “It’s not like a telephone that you press and it works. You go two steps forward, four steps back and again another step forward. You’re never in one place.
"You need to work hard to be consistent by improving your man-management and players’ performance so that we can reach where we are supposed to be, to meet the desire of our fans and our own plans.”