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Football | Absa Premiership

Milutin Sredojevich © Backpagepix

Bucs coach hails character of players

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevich hailed the mental fortitude of his team after they came from a goal down to beat Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s Soweto derby at FNB Stadium.

“The game is now history but I do want to appreciate the character of the players who still believed we could win the game despite missing the penalty,” he concluded.

Chiefs took an early lead through Khama Billiat after poor goalkeeping by Siyabonga Mpontshane before their goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune then saved a spot kick from Justin Shonga.

But Pirates keep up their heads to score through Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule to go into a halftime lead and then hold out for the win.

“We started the game on the backfoot as Chiefs, and let’s give them credit, dominated us for the first 15 to 20 minutes in a way that they scored the opening goal,” Sredojevich said.

“That served as a wake-up call. Then we had that penalty that Khune saved. That could have served as an injection of motivation and it could have cracked us mentally.

“But credit to the players, we showed mental strength, we did not lose our heads. It was important in those moments to switch on.

“Then we scored from the corner kick and got a second goal. But at halftime we still had to solve the problem of the so-called ‘golden zone’ in front of our defence where (Dumisani) Zuma, (Bernard) Parker and (Khama) Billiat were popping up all the time. They were overloading that area with their presence, infiltrating all the time,” he added.

“We sorted that out at halftime. We answered with our performance. We cut their supply lines, we cut their flanks and we stamped authority in the midfield. We believe that everything we planned went well.

“But we are not carried away,” coach Micho said.


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