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COMMENT: How Milutin Sredojevic has transformed Orlando Pirates

13:29 BST 24/10/2018
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic
Goal takes a look at how the 2016 Caf Coach of the Year nominee has transformed the Buccaneers

Orlando Pirates' have shrugged off their slow start to the 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) campaign under Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.

The Soweto giants seem to have clicked as the recent 1-0 win over Chippa United in the Telkom Knockout Cup round of 16 extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.

They have recorded four victories and three draws during their current unbeaten run which has seen them climb up the PSL standings to second spot. 

Nonetheless, Goal takes a look at how Sredojevic has transformed the Buccaneers: 


CONSISTENCY OF PLAYER SELECTION


Micho's constant starting line-up changes caused problems in the first few weeks of the current campaign.

The Serbian tactician chopped and changed players as he looked to find a winning formula and also integrate the new players into the team.

It backfired as Bucs lost three successive games in August and they were eliminated from the first Cup competition (MTN8) of the season as they paid the price for a lack of consistency in terms of player selection.

This lead to a lack of consistency in performance and some started questioning Pirates' PSL title credentials. 

Micho has since realized that it is important that he has consistency in place, hence he has been making small changes to the line-up since last month.

The likes of Ben Motshwari, Caio Marcelo and Vincent Pule have been introduced into the team and are now permanent fixtures in the starting line-up. 


RIGHT COMBINATIONS 


Micho has found the right combinations and has also incorporated the new players into the team.

Happy Jele's partnership with Brazilian defender Caio Marcelo at the heart of the Bucs defence is promising, but the latter still needs more time to adjust to life in the PSL.

Marcelo, who impressed the Bucs technical team while on trial, is tall and comfortable on the ball, and he has the potential to become the team's first-choice central defender once he has settled.

On the other hand, Motshwari has fitted like a glove and has reunited with fellow former Bidvest Wits midfielder Xola Mlambo in midfield.

Motshwari, who walked away with the man of the match accolade after Pirates' victory over Chippa, could be key to the team's hopes of winning a major trophy this season having helped Wits to the 2016/17 PSL title. 

Furthermore, Pule has hit the ground running at Bucs and he has benefited from Mlambo's exquisite passes from midfield, and he has also formed a good understanding with fellow attackers Justin Shonga, Augustine Mulenga and Thembinkosi Lorch.

The left-footed attacker, who inspired Wits to the 2017 Telkom Knockout Cup success, could be carrying Bucs' hopes of ending their four-year trophy drought.


REINTRODUCING OLD FACES 


Sredojevic went back to the drawing board after his side endured a slow start and he reintroduced old faces to the team.

The Buccaneers were prepared to offload Thabo Matlaba in the off-season, but the versatile defender rejected a proposed move to Chippa United.

Matlaba has since fought for his place in the starting line-up and he is now a regular in Micho's team, and an experienced player like 'Festival' could be key as the 49-year-old tactician looks to bring back Bucs' glory days.

Thembinkosi Lorch was expected to struggle to regain his place in the Bucs starting line-up after recovering from his injury due to Pule's explosive start to life at the Houghton-based side.

However, Sredojevic has found a way to accommodate both players in the team and Lorch has not disappointed as the skilfull attacker has netted twice in five starts.