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Bucs still on course

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Orlando Pirates coach is confident the team has what it takes to go all the way in the league

Lebohang Maboe of Mamelodi Sundowns (left) is tackled by Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates during their Absa Premiership clash at Orlando Stadium on Monday. Picture: Muzi Ntombela BackpagePix

Micho Sredojevic has urged Orlando Pirates supporters not to lose sleep over their recent disappointment as plans to end the club’s four-year trophy drought are still on course.

On Monday at their Orlando Stadium fortress, Pirates were presented with an opportunity to take a big step towards claiming the Absa Premiership title against defending champions and pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns. However, despite going toe-to-toe, the teams could only play out an entertaining goalless draw.

Pirates have all their eggs in one basket challenging for the league title, as they recently exited the Caf Champions League, which followed three failed attempts in domestic competitions – the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup.

Recognised force

In spite of the draw, Pirates moved up to second spot on the log, three points behind Sundowns, and Sredojevic reckons they still have what it takes to go all the way.

“Whoever has football eyes can see that Pirates have become a recognised force in South African football from the point of performance and result, since the 2016/17 season troubles,” he said.

“In this match, we needed to avoid a loss, as that would have put us away (from the chasing pack). However, we have not lost and the things we did on the field inject us with confidence, self-belief and team-belief that shows we have everything to be equal competitors with others.”

Three points for the Bucs would have been invaluable but there’s no time for crying over spilt milk as their next assignment is a short trip to Bidvest Stadium on Saturday to face fellow title contenders Wits, whom they lead by two points.

The last time they met, Wits left Orlando with the spoils after a late solitary strike by Haashim Domingo. But a lot has happened since then. The Clever Boys’ form at home has cost them as they recently bowed out of the Nedbank Cup on penalties to Chippa United after the game ended 4-4 after extra time.

Pirates do not boast an impressive away record, having only won one of their last five outings. Now, how does Sredojevic plot for this one?

“There are still 18 points to fight for. Still, so many matches to play,” Sredojevic replied. “We outplayed the opponent on Monday but the missing factor was the goal that could have given us the extra profit. But we need to prepare very well for the game against Bidvest Wits, go there and try to continue where we stopped against Sundowns.”

With pacesetters Sundowns focusing on continental duty this weekend as they welcome Egyptian giants Al Ahly to Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium for the quarter-finals of the Caf Champions League, both Pirates and the Clever Boys will be determined to make the advantage count.

Meanwhile, Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane will be mostly banking on a draw when the Jo’burgers clash as that will give the Brazilians an advantage when they face neighbours SuperSport United upon their return to domestic duties.