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Micho rejects favourites tag

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In his recent back-to-back victories over his arch-rivals, Sredojevic pulled the rabbit out of the hat

Picture: Muzi Ntombela BackpagePix

Following their back-to-back wins over arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the league, Orlando Pirates’ coach Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic is adamant that there won’t be favourites when the two Soweto giants lock-horns in the Telkom Knockout’s semi-finals at Moses Mabhida Stadium, tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

While both sides are chasing for their first piece of silverware after a lengthy-barren run, Pirates have shown characteristics of being championship material this season. Currently they are at the summit of the league standings with 23 points, following an 11-match unbeaten run.

“I disagree that we are favourites for matches of this magnitude,”Sredojevic said. “There are no favourites, and it not only a rule between us and Kaizer Chiefs but worldwide. Having that in mind, mental preparations are things that are very important. I really don’t know why (people) put us as favourites.

“Simple because we won in March and October, and now we are branded as favourites, it’s unacceptable. We don’t want to accept that tag and I also think it’s the same with Kaizer Chiefs.”

In his recent back-to-back victories over his arch-rivals, Sredojevic pulled the rabbit out of the hat.

In March, last season, he started goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane ahead of, his regular at the time, Jackson Mabokgwane. Later last month, Nyasha Munetsi – who was out in the cold in the beginning of the season – got the nod ahead of promising Brazilian-born defender Caio Marcelo at the heart of defence. Prior to these occurences, many couldn’t help but wonder if, this will be the match that will see the beginning of Brilliant Khuzwayo’s career at the club since his pre-season signing from Chiefs?

After all, Khuzwayo has done well in derby cup competitions. In 2014, he inspired Amakhosi to a 1-0 win in the MTN8 final over the Sea Robbers.

“This is an extraordinary match where we have the country on a standstill, and having that in mind and with the responsibility of our supporters, we have to serve something that will look like a surprise, but something that could effectively work,”Sredojevic said.

“Khuzwayo is in contention, whether he’ll be in or on standby or out is something that (will be decided later).

“Yesterday’s training session was promising; so after yesterday’s session, we’d have known whether we’ll serve everyone with some surprise packages.”

The previous campaign for “Micho” and his troops was mainly to revamp the team. And with that accomplished, the Bucs’ faithful are yearning for at least a piece of silverware this season.

After being eluded by the MTN8 already this season, the 49-year-old has promised their supporters that they’ll deliver, while, having only won the Telkom Knockout once in the club’s history has also served as motivation.

“It is very unfortunate that we’ve only won the Telkom Knockout once,”Sredojevic said.

“We know that many times we’ve been away from the Telkom Knockout’s triumph but this is an extra motivation for us to go all the way. I wouldn’t be sitting here today if, I didn’t believe in that.

I believe in what we do with the players and the support that we
get from the management and supporters.”