Micho Sredojevic cut a disappointed figure at Orlando Stadium after steering Orlando Pirates to a runners-up spot in the 2018/2019 Absa Premiership season.
The Pirates coach could only guide his charges to 57 points, two adrift from champions Mamelodi Sundowns who amassed 59, and remarkably recorded their ninth Premiership title.
However, the Buccaneers were in the driving seat for the better part of the closing stages of the season – losing that advantage in the penultimate round following a 2-2 draw with Cape Town City.
Sundowns, who were busy with continental duty at the time, made use of their game in hand against Golden Arrows before finishing off the job against Free State Stars, who were relegated to the National First Division on the last day of the season.
“We stretched ourselves to the limit and tried our best to go all the way, but it didn’t happen and there’s a bitter taste inside, knowing that we’ve only lost three matches.
“The biggest regret is that we had 12 draws, which is too many for the standard of the league,” Sredojevic said after their 3-0 win over Polokwane City on the last day of the league season.
What is also disappointing is that it was Pirates’ second successive attempt at championship honours since that humiliating season in which they endured their worst finish in the PSL era (11th).
“There’s a balance between disappointment, hard luck and regret,” Sredojevic said. “I regret that we drew 12 matches, especially as in six of them we were so close in winning. We had a roller-coaster season, were up until the last moment – everything was still open: who the champions would be, and who would be relegated or be in the top eight.”
However, despite earning the runners-up spot for the second successive season, the future is possibly looking brighter than ever before for Pirates. Not only did they push Sundowns to the limit in the last two seasons, they’ve also given their supporters belief that they are on track to reviving the glory days. Moreover, with another season of Caf Champions League football guaranteed, their resurgence is not going unnoticed.
“I think we all have reason to be proud of what we’ve done, but also some regret at losing so many home matches. But this was a lesson learnt,” Sredojovic said. “We are looking at a much better Orlando Pirates, and that over the last two seasons has brought smiles to our supporters.”
Meanwhile, Pirates’ talisman Thembinkosi Lorch, who has been the team’s knight in shining armour this season, will be hoping to have his name mentioned in the top two categories at the annual PSL awards – the Footballer of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season. The nominees will be announced at the Durban International Conventional Centre today, and the ceremony will be held on May19.