JOHANNESBURG – In a territory that’s supposed to be their fortress, Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic has expressed concern over the undesirable results they’ve endured at Orlando Stadium.
In the last four matches at home, the Buccaneers have only pulled off a single victory, while the rest of the contests have ended in draws, either jeopardising their PSL or Caf Champions League aspirations.
That’s an unwanted record as they welcome Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum to Soweto in Champions League Group B.
The Bucs are third in the group, and trail leaders and defending champions Esperance by three points, while a win on Friday could well put them closer to the knockout stages.
But that, of course, means they have to get it right at Orlando, as they also needed a late equaliser to salvage a point that took them to the summit of the domestic league against Bloemfontein Celtic on Tuesday.
“We are very disappointed and frustrated with the results! From the 10 draws that we got in the league, many of them happened here at Orlando,” Sredojevic admitted.
“We were supposed to win, but that didn’t happen. Also, the champions of Africa (Esperance) were almost on their knees here, and we were supposed win (but we didn’t).
“We are disappointed with the results, but extremely happy with the dedication of the players.”
At one stage in this season’s continental campaign, Orlando looked to be the fortress the Sea Robbers’ faithful longed for.
Sredojevic and his troops broke Horoya Athletic Club’s hoodoo over the PSL teams, as they hammered the latter by 3-0 in the second match of the group stage.
That was followed by yet another impressive draw against defending champions Esperance, who narrowly got off the hook due to poor officiating.
But after all, the only person who can ensure that Pirates are into the knockout stages is none other than Sredojevic.
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The Serbian tactician boasts an impressive CV, which has seen him impress in continental football with clubs such Young Africans FC (Tanzania), Saint-George SA (Ethiopia), Al-Hilal Omdurman (Sudan) and Villa SC (Uganda).
He also led the Bucs to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006 in his first stint with the club.
While a win tomorrow (9pm kickoff) will pull them closer to the knockout stages, the former Ugandan national team coach is fond of the idea, but has warned his troops to avoid biting off more than they can chew.
“We do not want to bring ourselves to a mental blockage, (saying) we need to win the seven remaining games (in the league),” Sredojevic said.
“On our bridge, we are talking about FC Platinum and Horoya Athletic Club, and it will be very nice to bring a South African team to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.”
Should the Bucs make it through to the continental knockout stages, Sredojevic and his assistant Rhulani Mokwena – who inspired Mamelodi Sundowns to 2016 African glory – will have to make sure to exhaust their knowledge in taking the team to the championship spot, be it domestically or on the continent, as both competitions intensify by the day.
This article was published by The South African,
and written by Alexis Haden.
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