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Genuine contenders

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While the Buccaneers have hit the ground running, Amakhosi have moved at a snail’s pace in the three years

Orlando Pirates' Thembinkosi Lorch celebrates scoring with his team mates in their win over Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic has been coy about the club’s championship credentials, arguing their aim is just to improve from last season’s disastrous campaign.

It’s a clever ploy for a team whose confidence was battered in last season’s dreadful campaign that saw the Buccaneers finish outside the top eight for the first time in the PSL era.

Pressuring such a team early in their journey of picking up the pieces would be too much, as the slightest of disappointment would set them back.

But even the blind can see that Pirates are genuine championship contenders as they are just four points adrift of Mamelodi Sundowns with seven matches to go.

Pirates’ 3-1 thumping of arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby on Saturday confirmed the club’s status as contenders, with the win giving the players a huge psychological boost.

Sredojevic passionately kissed the Buccaneers’ badge at full-time, showing the love he has for the club. He has described himself as a fan before being their coach.

His passion and love for the Buccaneers, something he shares with his assistants, Rhulani Mokwena and Benson Mhlongo, have transformed Pirates from the miserable team they were last season into a force that looks set to qualify for the CAF Champions League by finishing second as their worst-case scenario.

All of this has happened less than a year into the Serbian’s tenure, which started in August last year.

While the Buccaneers have hit the ground running, Amakhosi have moved at a snail’s pace in the three years that Steve Komphela has been in charge of the club, which is why his future in Naturena is bleak.

Komphela spent the first two seasons without adequate material to mount a formidable challenge for the league. Nonetheless, that team had enough quality to at least sneak a cup, which would have bought him time.

Komphela isn’t Chiefs’ main problem, but he is a part of it.

The club’s recruitment policy has been terrible, which led to players being shipped out after just one season in the past two campaigns, having failed to make the grade.

The club needs to review their policy if they are to return to the heights that saw them win the league in record style three seasons ago.