Sredojevic well aware Pirates will be expected to challenge on multiple fronts next season
Orlando Pirates laid the foundation finishing runners-up in the 2017-18 Absa Premiership season for an assault on silverware next campaign‚ Bucs coach Milutin Sredojevic has said.
The Buccaneers ended an excellent 2018 – in which they rallied to 11 wins‚ two draws and two defeats from 15 matches to push winners Mamelodi Sundowns for the title – in a fitting manner with a 2-1 victory against Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium.
Sredojevic‚ who arrived late in Bucs’ preseason‚ just two weeks before the season kickoff‚ understandably took some time to turn around the previous campaign’s 11th-placed‚ trophyless hiatus.
And while Pirates never won a trophy in 2017-18‚ or even reached a cup final‚ their second-half of the season form and dynamic football played under Sredojevic and his assistant‚ Rhulani Mokwena‚ promises much for next campaign.
That much seemed embodied by Bucs’ few thousand supporters who attended their final game staying behind for about half-an-hour to sing with the players and technical staff at Orlando on Saturday‚ and applaud their turnaround from last season‚ and football played this campaign.
“I believe that the supporters are feeling that this season we have laid the foundation.
"And that laid foundation puts ahead of us an important task‚” Sredojevic said afterwards.
“Number one‚ to do the deep analysis of who is supposed to come [into the squad] and who is supposed to be surplus. Number two‚ to really have a selection of players who will continue with the project.
“Because now we have the foundation‚ and now we need to build the house. And those are trophies.
“I need to tell you it will be very hard. This has been a very competitive league.
“But the biggest critical aspect that I will look at is that 15 matches won is not enough. We need to lean towards 20.
“We need to reduce the draws‚ because out of 10‚ there were at least eight we were supposed to have won.
“But football is like that. And I’m looking at the first half of the season where we had too many draws.
“We are the team with the least number of defeats – five.
"But next year we have five fronts of competition – in the MTN8‚ The Telkom Knockout‚ the Nedbank Cup‚ the PSL‚ and our one target competition is the Caf Champions League.
“So when we have all these we need to keep what was OK‚ and we need to upgrade a lot. We need to be aware that competition will be very stiff‚ and it will be very hard.
“I need to mention that I arrived on August 3 [for the 2017-18 season]‚ and coach Rhulani [Mokwena] a few days after‚ so this will be our first proper preseason. And the preseason is the foundation of the season.
“We want to do our best‚ we want to fulfil the dreams of our supporters‚ we want to heal their souls further. We want to make them happy‚ because the power given to us is to make millions happy.”
Pirates qualified for the 2018-19 Champions League as PSL runners-up.
The competition comes into alignment with Caf’s now-northern hemisphere calendar‚ running in a compressed format from the December (after the November final of the 2018 competition) until the final on May 19 next year.