Now Orlando Pirates are starting to believe‚ says coach Sredojevic
The thought that title rivals Mamelodi Sundowns could lose a point for fielding an ineligible player has not even crossed the minds of Orlando Pirates’ players‚ Buccaneers coach Milutin Sredojevic has said.
Pirates pulled three points clear of second-placed Sundowns at the top of the Absa Premeirship with a convincing 2-0 win over Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
“Our focus is totally on a game of football. We don’t know anything and we don’t think about this [Sundowns potentially losing a point]‚ and I have nothing really to comment on that‚” said Sredojevic after goals from Luvuyo Memela and Thembinkosi Lorch handed Bucs victory.
Sundowns‚ who are three points behind Pirates but with two matches in hand‚ could potentially be docked a point they gained in their drawn league match against Bidvest Wits in October last year in which they fielded an ineligible player in Wayne Arendse.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee has found Sundowns guilty of fielding Arendse and they will be sentenced on Friday.
The point deduction would aid Pirates in the race for the league title but Sredojevic insists that that thought has not even been entertained in the dressing room.
“We have no right to speak about that. We shall see what the final bill is‚” he said.
The Serbian coach has continually played down his team’s ambitions and chances of winning the league and improving on last season’s runners-up finish.
He has managed to get the players to also deflect the spotlight away from their team. But with a three-point lead with four matches remaining‚ Sredojevic and his players finally gave in.
Man-of-the-match Lorch declared after the match that the team is craving the PSL glory that Bucs last tasted in 2012.
Even Sredojevic could no longer continue the “game-by-game” line he has repeatedly drummed into his players‚ and rolled out to the public and the press.
“You need to know something. What Lorch has said is an expression from his head. It is our duty and responsibility in each and every competition to go targeting the highest level – in this case to win the league‚” the coach said.
“But having in mind that our opponents [Sundowns] have matches in hand‚ we could not say we have gained any advantage.
“But I can openly tell you that as Pirates people‚ as people who love this badge and jersey‚ all of us we look towards that direction [of winning the league].
“We shall sell our skin very expensively. We shall give everything and we shall see what football will give us back.
“But I can assure you that every single individual in the dressing room‚ these unsung heroes [fans] that are following us‚ all of us‚ we believe‚” said Sredojevic.
Pirates have 12 points to play for and the maximum they can reach is the 59-point mark.
Bucs will look to stretch their lead over Sundowns to six points when they welcome another battling side‚ 15th-placed Free State Stars‚ at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Sundowns are inactive in the league again this weekend as they aim to seal a place in the semifinals of the Caf Champions League.
They are away to Egyptian giants Al Ahly in Alexandria on Saturday with one foot in the last four after hammering the eight-time champions 5-0 in the quarterfinal first leg in Pretoria last weekend.
Downs will be back in league action on April 17 at home against Pretoria rivals SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld.