JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic plans to use the Buccaneers’ weakness to get the better of Horoya in Guinea on Saturday for a place in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League.
The Sea Robbers sailed into Guinea yesterday knowing that nothing less than a win will take them to the last eight.
Pirates have to do something that not many have done – beat Horoya in their own backyard. Sredojevic’s men put themselves in this precarious position by not making the most of their home ground.
The key to the Champions League is winning your home games and then sneaking at least one away win. That’s enough to see you top the group with ease.
But Pirates have only won once at home, beating Horoya 3-0 to become the first SA side to beat the Guineans after Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United failed.
Starting slow is nothing new to Pirates. They tend to do this in most of their games, get a wake-up call when their opponents score, and then recover in ferocious fashion.
They have already started slowly in the Champions League. Horoya have given them a wake-up call as they occupy the second place Pirates need to reach the knockout stage. Then cue the fiery response.
“There are several matches where we needed a warning and then come back,” Sredojevic said.
“Now we have learned to come back. We are looking for solutions that will see us have the same approach from the start to that we have in the second half. This is a process. I am confident we shall find a way, there are certain things that you can’t control. It’s much more mental than it is a technical problem.”
Horoya aren’t flashy but they are disciplined and they’re a tough nut to crack in Conakry. Pirates will have to be inventive in looking to bulldoze their way past them. Thamsanqa Gabuza will be an asset in that approach with his tireless work rate and bulldozing abilities.
Should Pirates not advance to the knockout stage, they will look back to their two draws at home, against Esperance and FC Platinum, as the moments their dreams to conquer the continent were shattered.
Failure to get maximum points at home in the Champions League is criminal, especially when opponents are there for the taking, as was the case with the reigning champions and the Zimbabwean side.
“You remember against Esperance, we had a chance to win and we didn’t,” Sredojevic said.
“We had a tough match against Platinum, we had a chance to win and we didn’t. We look at ourselves critically, analyse the reasons and the cause of why didn’t we win.
“What gives us confidence is that in the league we have collected 22 points away. Most of the points we have come from away games. That’s one source of confidence, but there are many others.
“As an optimist, a person who believes, and a coach of this big club who respects the badge and millions of supporters, we have to be extremely confident and believe. We believe in the work we do with the players and that we have what it takes to give our best there and win.”