SOUTH African football giants Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevis, also known as Micho, has spoken of his “admiration” for FC Platinum’s sleek passing game and the team’s commitment under Norman Mapeza.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
The Serbian was left an impressed man after playing a nervy goalless draw in their opening Group B match at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday against Zimbabwe’s Premier Soccer League champions.
Both have enjoyed a good run of form of late, as shown by their respective leagues as well as their progression beyond the opening rounds of the continental competition.
However, Sredojevis said despite their low-profile in this tournament, FC Platinum made a big statement by their performance against Pirates and he believes they can easily defeat the current Confederation of African Football champions Esperance just like what Dynamos did in 2008 when they humbled Etoile du Sahel when it was least expected.
“Last time when a South African team came here, they lost, but we managed a point. There are two draws on the first matches and there is still so much to be played but I respect this team because I know this country,” he said.
“It has gone through so many circumstances, especially between 2007 and 2008 when Dynamos went and defeated the then champions Etoile du Sahel to progress to the group stages.
“This is a strong team that has impressed me as a coach. They have good individual players and a very good coach as well. And considering that they are coming from a good footballing nation, I wish them all the best and I hope they will reach all their goals.”
Sredojevis heaped praise on Mapeza’s tactical wits having led the platinum miners to success on the local front and in the premium continental tournament.
Mapeza is now regarded as one of the best coaches in the country, having guided a team outside of Harare and Bulawayo to win the local league on two consecutive occasions in many decades.
“He (Mapeza) is a good coach and even from his playing days, I understand he was very good,” Sredojevis.
“At FC Platinum, he has assembled a strong team that is good enough to keep yielding results. The team has brilliant individuals and it is compact. With their levels of determination, I think anything good can be expected from them in this tournament.”
The group is still wide open as all the four teams are fixated on one point, with each having an equal chance of progressing to the quarter-finals of the tournament.
In the other encounter, Esperance shared spoils with Horoya AC following a one all draw.