Micho Sredojevic remains optimistic his Orlando Pirates team have what it takes to get all three points when they lock horns with Horoya Athletic Club in Conakry, Guinea, in the last round of the Caf Champions League group stage matches.
Sredojevic’s Orlando Pirates team find themselves in a quagmire of the being eliminated from continental football in the group stage round after being caught wanting at Orlando Stadium during their 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum in the penultimate round.
In a game where Pirates were tipped to wipe the floor with the Zimbabweans, they were in for a surprise, as the latter went into the interval two-goals up thanks to strikes from Never Tigere and Perfect Chikwende, while parity for the former was restored by Augustine Mulenga and Thembinkosi Lorch in the second half
This left the Soweto giants third in group B with six points, one behind Horoya, while they trail leaders Esperance by five points – leaving them with an uphill battle against Horoya in Conakry next Saturday.
“We wanted to have three points against Platinum. which would guarantee us that a draw will be enough there,” Sredojevic admitted.
“But at the same moment, it will feel like a final for Orlando Pirates and we know what will take us through. I must give credit to the players for the character shown.
“We are looking to give out the best there, and we’ll fight to go to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.”
“You see, what make this encounter tricky is that Horoya are lethal in their backyard in the Champions League.”
In the last 20 matches, the Guineans are unbeaten in 14 games, and their last loss was in 2014.
On the other hand, the Bucs have only won seven of their past 20 matches away from home, while their last encounter was a 3-0 loss to defending champions Esperance.
Now, do Pirates realistically have a chance to progress to the last-eight?
Sredojevic, who’s previously coached in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda, believes that they can – banking on the impressive away record in the Premiership to serve as a huge morale booster.
“In the league, we’ve won 22 points, out of 40 (that we have), in our away matches. This is one source of confidence,” he said.
“But there are many other factors, for instance, if we’d have won against Platinum… so we are going there with calculations.
“We then concede in the last minute of the game and we are out. But now, there’s no calculation but it’s a must that we win.”
After all, there’s no one other than the 49-year-old coach to lead Pirates to the quarter-finals of the continental competition.
In 2006, during his first stint with the club, he led the team to the semi-finals, where they lost out to Tunisia’s CS Sfaxien.
But, with the 13-year difference between now and then, some of the Bucs’ fans might have lost faith in the Serbian tactician.
However, Sredojevic remains adamant he still has the passion to take the beleaguered club to a championship spot this season.
“As an optimist, a person who believes, as a convener and coach of this club, I say that we need to be confident and believe that we have what it takes to give our best there and win,” he concluded.