JOHANNESBURG – The no-name brand that Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic left South Africa as after his short seven-month stint returned to the country as a brand-name to complete his unfinished business with Orlando Pirates.
The Serbian, in his first stint as Pirates coach, didn’t stay long enough for people to properly get to know him and what he stands for as a coach, even though he took the club to the semi-finals of the 2006 Caf Champions League.
But he followed the Buccaneers closely in the decade he spent coaching in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda. His experience on the continent has seen him grow and put him in a good position to finally lead Bucs to glory in the Champions League.
“I have followed closely what has happened in the club,” he said. “I have watched several of their games on Saturday. I have worked with some of the players as a coach (in my first stint) and I know some of the newcomers from watching them.
“I need to turn these players into a group that has an iron defence, creative build-up and sharp attack. That will not happen by just talking about it. It will happen by going into the field and working on it. I see huge space for development and improvement, and this is the driving force pushing me.”
Before Sredojevic works with a player, he captures the heart of the human behind the player, which is why he is loved everywhere he has worked. He will need those skills to work on a team that has players who have been accused of using their power to run the Sea Robbers.
Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza called on Sredojevic to take control of the team and show everyone who’s boss. The job of being Bucs coach requires the incumbent to not only be smarter tactically but also be a strong figure to handle the heat in one of the most demanding coaching environments in the country.
Sredojevic understands he can’t ask for time in his quest to turn a miserable team that slumped to their worst performance in the PSL-era into an all-conquering side that can again be respected.
“Being in a club of this magnitude, you can’t ask supporters for patience,” Sredojevic said. “There is only one language that they understand – winning. We are working against time. We have to work. I followed this team last season. I saw that they lost to SuperSport United (6-1) and Mamelodi Sundowns hammered the team (6-0).
“The supporters are the owners of this team. We are just servants. In this club, you can’t come and give yourself (time to settle and sort things out). You must deliver immediately. The first match for me (against Chippa United on Saturday), I will approach it the same way I would the final of the Champions League.”