JOHANNESBURG - The well-travelled Orlando Pirates’ coach, Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic, will use shock-therapy to fix the club’s misfiring ways after he described the country’s scoring problem as the worst he has seen in his career.
The 48-year-old coach has been all over the world in a coaching career that spans over two decades, starting in his home country Serbia in 1994 followed by stints in Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan, Rwanda before returning to South Africa this year for a second spell at Pirates. Sredojevic has a mammoth task to transform the Buccaneers from the sorry state they were last season, to challenge for the championship. But the club’s poor performance in front of goal isn’t helping his course.
“I am trying to create a habit and culture of scoring by helping the players to not think too much about the pressure of scoring or the chances that they miss,” Sredojevic said. “This is a nationwide problem. I, as a technical person, will soon get grey hair. But I am a person who never says die. I don’t give up.
"The problem here is that when a player misses one chance, they think too much about it and that stops them from moving on from that disappointment to create more chances. We are trying to hammer across being stronger mentally through our man-management. If you dwell too much on the chances you missed, then you will miss more.
"We don’t have a problem of playing football in South Africa. The problem is the mental block that stops our players from putting the ball in the back of the net. That’s why our national team didn’t qualify for the World Cup.
"From what I saw in Polokwane and Dakar, Senegal will be a punching bag in Russia if they don’t quickly improve. I have been to 138 countries, believe me, I have never seen this amount of misses in my life.”
Micho: “Sunday will be the clash of the the teacher & the student when we play Bloem Celtic. Veselin Jelusic was my professor when I was studying. I will show him what I have learned. He’s a top class gentleman”
Sredojevic can’t add any personnel from now until January to try and solve the cub’s misfiring ways. He has to do with what he has, not helped by having only one out-and-out striker, Thamsanqa Gabuza, who is far from a prolific forward.
“When you have players and you have no option to reinforce - for me, my players are the best players in the world at present,” Sredojevic said. “I have the highest possible degree of human and sporting respect for them. I believe that they have everything to play for this badge.
"We have been trying to increase competition among the players in the team. In a big club when you win everything is normal, when you draw there are huge question marks and when God-forbid you lose, there is a revolution.”
'Micho' continued: “I believe in selecting a consistent line-up. The team I coached before (Uganda) was one of the most consistent teams in African football in the last four years. I am trying to do that here.
"I don’t like to make more than four changes. But when you see that more than four or five players are not satisfying the standards and others are knocking - maybe I will be forced to stop being consistent and use shock-therapy so that we can see what those on the stands can do.
"People need to fight for their places. But this doesn’t mean that I am desperate. I am at peace. We will find the balance between consistency and radical shocking changes.”