ORLANDO Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza believes the club’s fortunes have changed since he appointed Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic as head coach in the off-season.
Micho, who left his job as Ugandan national coach to return to Bucs where he had a seven-month spell in 2006-07, has been like a breath of fresh air.
Bucs suffered their first loss under Serbian born Sredojevic when they were beaten 1-0 at the Bidvest Stadium by struggling defending Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits at the weekend.
Pirates are third in the standings with 11 points after six matches.
And Khoza is smiling for the first time since the disastrous run the club endured last season, where they had three different coaches and finished 11th.
Khoza spoke to SunSport at Orlando Stadium yesterday where Pirates announced a new three-year sponsorship deal with Ford, who handed over nine vehicles to the club.
He said Micho was energised, which had benefitted the players: “When you have a coach who has a lot of energy that energy rubs off on the players and gives us hope.”
But Khoza has not set any targets for his new coach. He admits Sredojevic has a tough job ahead this season: “As Pirates we create history and Micho must add to our history. We want to achieve everything.
“There is huge expectations from everyone that Pirates must succeed. Micho has a difficult job. But he has already laid a solid foundation that we can build on. He is rebuilding and it might take time. Maybe we will bear the fruits this year or the next.
“We were the first to win in Africa in 1995 when we won the Caf Champions Cup. We were also the first to win two back-to-back domestic trebles. We made a lot of sacrifices to play in Africa, and it has paid dividends and led the way for others to follow. Pirates have a proud history.”
Bucs reached the Caf Champions League final in 2013 and the Caf Confederation Cup final in 2015.
“But (after last season) we had to make changes and take a leap. Some people criticised us but in the end we had to make sure we had a coach who was energised. Players will not follow a sloppy coach.”
Khoza said it was vital Micho got the support of not just the players but management and fans too: “We all have to pull together and support the coach. There is a new spirit but it will take time.
“We have made a good start but the coach does not have an easy job.”