Now Pirates are starting to believe‚ says coach Milutin Sredojevic
Serbian and his players not openly discussing how Sundowns point deduction might help them
The thought that title rivals Mamelodi Sundowns could lose a point for fielding an ineligible player has not crossed the minds of Orlando Pirates’ players‚ Buccaneers coach Milutin Sredojevic says.
Pirates pulled three points clear of second-placed Sundowns at the top of the Premiership with a convincing 2-0 win over Black Leopards at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
“Our focus is totally on a game of football. We don’t know anything and we don’t think about this [Sundowns potentially losing a point]‚ and I have nothing really to comment on that‚” said Sredojevic after goals from Luvuyo Memela and Thembinkosi Lorch handed Bucs victory.
Second-placed Sundowns‚ who have two matches in hand‚ could be docked the point they gained in their drawn league match against Bidvest Wits last October in which they fielded an ineligible player in Wayne Arendse.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee found Sundowns guilty of fielding Arendse and they will be sentenced on Friday.
The point deduction could aid Pirates in the race for the league title but Sredojevic insists that such a thought has not even been entertained in the dressingroom.
“We have no right to speak about that. We shall see what the final bill is‚” he said.
The Serbian coach has continually played down his team’s ambitions and chances of winning the league and improving on last season’s runners-up finish.
He has managed to get the players to also deflect the spotlight from the team. But with a three-point lead and four matches remaining‚ Sredojevic and his players have finally given a hint that they believe they can win title.
Man-of-the-match Lorch declared after the match that the team was craving the PSL glory that Bucs last tasted in 2012.
Even Sredojevic could no longer continue the “game-by-game” line he has repeatedly drummed into his players‚ and rolled out to the public and the media.
“You need to know something. What Lorch has said is an expression from his head. It is our duty and responsibility in each and every competition to go targeting the highest level — in this case to win the league‚” the coach said.
“But having in mind that our opponents [Sundowns] have matches in hand‚ we could not say we have gained any advantage.
“But I can openly tell you that as Pirates people‚ as a people who love this badge and jersey‚ all of us look towards that direction [of winning the league].”
Pirates have 12 points to play for and the maximum they can reach is the 59 points.
Bucs will look to stretch their lead over Sundowns to six points when they welcome another battling side‚ 15th-placed Free State Stars‚ at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Sundowns are in action in the Caf Champions League this weekend. They will be back in league action on April 17 at home against SuperSport United at Loftus Versfeld.