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Mixed emotions for Orlando Pirates coach Sredojevic

Orlando Pirates' Serbian coach Milutin Sredojevich (L) and his assistant Rulani Mokoena.
Orlando Pirates' Serbian coach Milutin Sredojevich (L) and his assistant Rulani Mokoena.
Image: Pirates/Instagram

With mixed emotions between pride at hard work laying a platform and the bitter taste of not winning a trophy‚ Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic eventually simply had to admit that from his team in 2018-19 it was "still not enough".

Pirates finished the Absa Premiership runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns for a second season‚ falling just short‚ their 3-0 win against Polokwane City at Orlando Stadium on Saturday leaving Bucs two points adrift because Downs saw off Free State Stars 1-0 in Bethlehem.

Sredojevic often talks about how in football the team and technical staff can do so much‚ and then the game has to reward you.

The margins between silverware or not can be a single goal.

Had Pirates held onto their lead against Cape Town City last week at Athlone Stadium instead of drawing 2-2‚ they would be league champions.

The same would be the case if Stars‚ desperate to avoid relegation‚ which they could not‚ had scrambled a goal against Sundowns.

Had Marshall Munetsi not been red-carded four minutes before the break in the Telkom Knockout final in December‚ Baroka FC might not have gone on to win on penalties.

On such margins‚ Sredojevic could have celebrated a double instead of a second season at Bucs without a trophy.

But in that - and despite the return to the Caf Champions League after six years gaining valuable experience reaching the group stages - ultimately‚ the coach had to admit‚ Pirates simply did fall just short.

"Yes‚ it is true‚ we have lifted the tally from last year - 55 points and now 57‚" Sredojevic said after the win against fifth-placed City.

"We have stretched ourselves over all limits trying to go all the way. It didn't happen. There is a bitter taste inside that.

"Especially knowing that we have lost only three matches. The biggest regret goes to the fact that we had 12 draws.

"That's too much.

"I would express sincere appreciation to the chairman [Irvin Khoza] and the management that they really gave us everything available. They are unsung heroes.

"I want to give appreciation to the technical team - coach Rulani [Mokwena]‚ Fadlu [Davids] and the others‚ that they have had sleepless nights and hard-working days being the servants and soldiers of our playing unit.

"The players‚ too‚ who have with all their performances fallen in love with our supporters‚ on whose wings and prayers we really tried our best.

"The players have really done their best being in five competitions‚ in each competition being really close to the targets that we had.

"We have set an important platform in this season. It is the second consecutive time that we will go to the Champions League. We already have the experience of playing 10 matches this year.

"And with this experience we have set a platform for the next Champions League‚ for next season's league and next season's cups.

"Seeing all the work that has been done‚ we have an immense amount of pride that it has taken us so close.

"At the same time‚ there is a bitter taste that we had to stretch ourselves much more.

"We have not won trophies. But you could say that we have set a very strong platform strengthening the team. This team will continue.

"There is pride that in two years we have lost only eight matches in this league. In the season before we had lost 20. We have won 30 matches in two seasons.

"But it is still not enough. We are still hungry‚ looking for more‚ and still‚ despite moving the bar higher‚ aware that it is not enough."

Pirates' goals on Saturday were scored by Thembinkosi Lorch (seventh and 42nd minutes) and Vincent Pule (21st).

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