Why 'Micho' is so confident that Orlando Pirates are still firmly in the PSL race
Orlando Pirates’ 0-0 draw against Mamelodi Sundowns on Monday kept the Buccaneers in the Absa Premiership race‚ coach Milutin Sredojevic has said.
Third-placed Pirates (40 points)‚ remain three points behind leaders Sundowns (43)‚ both from 23 games.
Bucs have an opportunity to bounce back from dropping two points at Orlando Stadium on Monday‚ and regain the lead‚ if they beat second-placed Bidvest Wits at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday (kickoff 3pm).
In doing so‚ Bucs can also land a significant blow to Gavin Hunt’s season-long title challengers Wits‚ who have battled for form in the second half of the season‚ and been particularly poor at home.
Wits are on 41 points‚ but have played a game more (24) than Sundowns and Pirates.
Of the two coaches at Orlando on Monday night‚ certainly it would have been Sundowns’ Pitso Mosimane who was the more pleased with the draw.
Pirates had piled the pressure on Downs in the first half and cut through for numerous chances.
Sundowns managed the game better in the second half‚ and settled for the point away against the team they view as their most dangerous challengers to defending their league title‚ retaining the PSL lead.
But Sredojevic pointed out that drawing‚ and not losing‚ also kept Pirates in the chase.
“Our two matches [this season] against Sundowns [both 0-0 draws] are a totally upside down situation in comparison to 2016-17‚” Sredojevic said‚ referring to Bucs’ nightmare campaign before his arrival‚ where Pirates finished 11th in the PSL and lost 6-0 and 2-0 against Downs.
“Whoever has football eyes can see that Pirates have become a recognised force in South African football [again] in terms of the performance and the results.
“It could be much better.
"And when I look at everything‚ in this game [against Downs] the only thing we needed to do was to not lose. If we had lost‚ we were then away [in the race].
“However we have not lost.
"Instead‚ with everything that we have done on the field that injects us with confidence and self-belief we gave everything that it takes so that in the remaining seven games we are equal competitors with the others.
“Because when you are outplaying‚ but unfortunately not out-scoring‚ your direct opposition‚ you have a million and one reasons to be proud of [yourselves].”
Sundowns are not involved in league action this weekend.
They face Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of their Caf Champions League quarterfinal at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
Downs’ continued involvement chasing Africa’s premier club title‚ where Pirates exited in the group stages‚ will have added to Sredojevic’s conviction that the draw in Orlando has far from eliminated Bucs from the PSL title race.
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