JOHANNESBURG - Despite Orlando Pirates being set to miss their own target, coach Milutin Sredojevic believes the Buccaneers are on the right track.
The Serbian coach and his technical team were aiming to collect at least 10 points in five matches after dividing their 30 PSL games into six sets of five. Pirates collected 11 points from the first set. Four games into the second set, the Buccaneers have collected a paltry three points. The last of those points came on Saturday in the goalless draw with their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby at FNB Stadium. This means that even if they beat Mamelodi Sundowns in their next match, which would hand the Brazilians three successive defeats, they will still be behind their target.
“There are many teams that have the ambition to be at the top of this league and as far as I know, we have very good colleagues (coaches, leading those teams),” Sredojevic said. “Most of those teams have a plan of 10-12 points per set (of five matches). Yes we got 11 points from the first set. We have entered into something (a dip) that any team can experience. We don’t have a problem of performance and creating chances but we have a problem of converting. In a way, we are convinced that the performances we have produced will lead to a breakthrough. We have to be confident and the goals will come, with that we will be able to reclaim what we have lost in this set.”
Pirates’ second set of five fixtures included two teams that finished in the top four, Bidvest Wits and Chiefs. Dropping points against those teams and a narrow win over Cape Town City, who finished third, showed that the Buccaneers are yet to look like championship contenders with their immediate task being to improve from their disastrous showing last season.
“I need to tell you that I look at every match as a final of the Africa Cup of Nations,” Sredojevic said. “I don’t focus much on the opponents. Maybe, in our planning, 20-30 percent is on our opponents and 70-80 percent we focus on ourselves in order for us to get better. I believe that we are on the right track. We need to add that important aspect of finishing and we will get there.”
In nine matches the Buccaneers have only found the back of the net seven times, resulting in them failing to find a win in their last four matches.
“It is true (that we haven’t won in four matches) but I am not worried,” Sredojevic said. “We are introducing a new set-up. We want to build our house, the performance, in a way that we have an identity. We dominated our last four games, but the only thing that was missing was converting the chances we created. In a marathon called the league, you have some bad patches but the most important thing is collecting the odd point here and there while you build your momentum. I am convinced that we will start to get wins. The performances that we have displayed are injecting us with immense confidence. We will continue playing our way. The results will come.”
Pirates shift focus from the league to the Telkom Knockout. The Buccaneers visit Golden Arrows at Princess Magogo Stadium on Saturday in the last 16.