Thabo Qalinge respects Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic's decision to use him as impact player

Thabo Qalinge of Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs
The dribbling wizard has found it difficult to command a regular place in the Bucs starting line-up

Orlando Pirates attacking midfielder Thabo Qalinge has discussed his role under coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.

The 26-year-old, who has struggled with injuries this season, proved to be the hero for Pirates as he scored a late goal which handed his team a 2-1 win over AmaZulu FC at King Zwelithini Stadium last weekend.

The victory helped the Buccaneers maintain their hopes of winning this season’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) title, but the Soweto giants will have to win all of their remaining games and hope that Mamelodi Sundowns drop points if they are to win the trophy. 

Qalinge, who was introduced with less than 30 minutes left against AmaZulu, has been used as an impact player by Micho and the winger stated that he will respect the coach’s decision to use him from the bench.

“In the game against AmaZulu, what helped me is that I came in a bit earlier and got a chance to adjust to the game,” Qalinge said on Vodacom Soccer.

“I would not say that, what I would say is, I would just respect the coach’s decisions. He knows what he is doing, if he believes that I should start and then I will start,” the diminutive attacker continued.

“If I should start on the bench then I will start on the bench as long I just come in and work for the team to produce positive results,” he added.

Qalinge and his Bucs team-mates will take on Bidvest Wits at the Orlando Stadium next week Wednesday as they look to keep up with high-flying Sundowns, who are in control of the race for the PSL title.

The Brazilians extended their lead at the top of the league standings with a 1-0 win over Lamontvile Golden Arrows at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday. They are now six points above second-placed Pirates with three games left.

When asked about the title race, Qalinge insisted that they are not thinking of beating Sundowns to the trophy as their mission this season has simply been about improving from their disastrous display in the previous campaign.

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"We are just looking to improve from last season. That’s what we are doing. We are looking to up our game because last season we did not do well,” he said.

“So we are just trying to win games and show that we are a big team,” the former SuperSport United reserve team player concluded.

Bucs are set to play their encounter against the Clever Boys behind closed doors. This is after the PSL handed down its punishment to Pirates for the crowd violence at the game between the Soweto giants and Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on February 11, 2017.