Whenever Orlando Pirates lose, it is a dark day for their fans.
As one of the Soweto giants, they are expected to win every game.
But the ignominy of going down 3-0 to SuperSport United on Wednesday night is being felt acutely at Orlando Stadium.
Now coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic has called on his players to “man-up” ahead of Saturday’s home MTN8 clash against Highlands Park (6pm kickoff).
Pirates are feeling the heat of a tough few days, having lost an African Champions League game 1-0 against Green Eagles in Zambia last weekend, and then suffering a drubbing at the hands of Matsatsantsa a Pitori at Mbombela Stadium.
But on Thursday, Sredojevic said at a press conference that the Highlands encounter is an opportunity to sort out their problems on the pitch.
“We started on the wrong foot in the Champions League campaign in Zambia, and we still have corrective measures to do in the second leg,” the Serbian mentor said.
“Even after we injected freshness after the trip, with Chabalala in defence, Monyane on the flank, Makaringe in midfield and Mhango upfront, we did not provide enough energy that could respond to the energy that SuperSport brought on to the field of play.
“In Saturday’s (cup) match, there is no correction – you are either through, or… I don’t even want to think about it!
“Highlands Park have the most specific physical approach in the PSL. We have played over 20 friendly matches over the last few years – they know us, and we know them.
“They are unpredictable, tricky, and it is a huge test of character and measurement of our values.
“I would like to say that we need to man-up, and use these 72 hours in an appropriate way.”
Sredojevic revealed that some of his players are not at their “best operational level” yet, but adding that while it is a concern, it is still early in the season.
However, he said that getting back to winning ways can’t just be done by pressing a button.
“Instead of licking the wounds of the last two matches, we have to focus on how to produce the performance and the result on Saturday,” he said.
“We need to out-work them football-wise. In terms of the wounds, we are healing with the match on Saturday. We owe ourselves, we owe our supporters – we need to return to the normal direction.
“Football is not the bush where you can hide. Everyone can see you, it’s very transparent. I do care about the jersey, the badge and the supporters. But we need to find an umbrella to help us pass this storm.
“We need to bring our A-game on Saturday, as this is the demand when you look at our opponents and supporters. We need to provide the approach of wounded lions – pride is at stake.
“It is not pleasant to go through this. We need to wash the laundry inside, look at each other in the face, and answer not by talking – let the football talk on Saturday.”@ashfakmohamed