Can Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic do better than his 2006 semi-final success in Caf Champions League?

Goal examines why Micho should be optimistic going into his second Champions League campaign with Bucs

On Wednesday, Orlando Pirates will embark on their 2018/19 Caf Champions League campaign.

The Soweto giants will be looking to make a strong start in their return to the continental tournament when they face Star Light FC of Seychelles in the first-leg of the preliminary rounds at the Orlando Stadium.

This will be Bucs' maiden appearance in the competition since 2013 - a year which saw them reach the final where they lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly.

The Buccaneers are now under the guidance of Serbian tactician Milutin Sredojevic - the man, who is no stranger to the most prestigious club competition on the African continent. 

Sredojevic guided Pirates to the 2006 Champions League semi-finals where they were unlucky to lose to Tunisian giants CS Sfaxien (1-0 defeat on aggregate) in his first spell with the four-time Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions.

Lelo Mbele during his days at Pirates

They had defeated top African sides such as Hearts of Oak and Enyimba in the group stages, with Sredojevic relying heavily on players such as Blaise Lelo Mbele.

The man nicknamed Micho, went on to lead Sudanese side Al Hilal Omdurman to the 2011 Champions League semi-finals where they lost to Tunisian football heavyweights, Esperance de Tunis.

The former Rwanda coach's experience on the continent is impeccable as he guided Uganda to their first Africa Nations Cup (Afcon) tournement in 38 years having also led Al Hilal to the 2010 Caf Confederation Cup semi-finals.

Micho, who was re-appointed as Pirates head coach at the beginning of last season, appears to have reshaped the squad into one that can implement his ideas and win a major trophy.

Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic

Bucs players are now attuned to his style with the team currently enjoying a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

The one advantage that Sredojevic has ahead of the new campaign is the presence of highly-rated local tactician Rulani Mokwena, who is the Pirates assistant coach.

Mokwena was part of the Mamelodi Sundowns technical team which remarkably led the team the 2016 Champions League title and some have suggested that he was the brain behind the success on the continent.

Sredojevic and Mokwena have transformed Pirates into serious PSL title contenders, and the team is also in the final of the 2018 Telkom Knockout Cup where they are deemed strong favorites to win the tournament.

Rhulani Mokwena & Milutin Sredojevic, Orlando Pirates, May 2018

The 49-year-old trainer could also bank on the experience of Asavela Mbekile, Mpho Makola and Happy Jele, who have been included in the team's Champions League squad.

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Mbekile featured for Sundowns during their successful 2016 Champions League campaign, while Makola and Jele helped Pirates reach the Caf Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup finals in 2013 and 2015 respectively. 

Furthermore, the Bucs squad which includes internationals such as Augustin Mulenga, Justin Shonga (both Zambia), Kudakwashe Mahachi and Marshall Munetsi (both Zimbabwe) is well equipped to compete in the Champions League and challenge for the trophy. 

There is no doubt that Micho has all the right ingredients to guide the Buccaneers to the final where anything will be possible.