Orlando Pirates must churn out the performance to get the result that will shape the team towards its CAF Champions League quarterfinal target, said coach Milutin Sredojevic.
The Buccaneers begin their group stage campaign against FC Platinum of Zimbabwe at the Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday.
“The first two [Absa Premiership] matches we played against Highlands Park and Chippa United have been like a bridge to the Champions League - there is no better way to start the year in a competitive form,” Sredojevic told City Press.
He added: “In those two matches we have tested ourselves and we have seen our shortcomings. We are conceding too much and we want to improve defending.”
Pirates drew 2-2 with Highlands Park in Tembisa last Saturday and conceded another two in their 4-2 win over Chippa United in Orlando on Tuesday.
“We are scoring enough but we want more,” noted Micho.
The Serbian tactician maintained that Bucs have players who could “turn our dreams into reality”.
As for his approach against Platinum, Sredojevic said the outing in Bulawayo was a totally different ball game.
“We need to show the best shape and performance to get the result that will help us towards our quarterfinal target,” he said of the 3pm kick-off fixture.
“We had targeted to reach group stage and we did. Our second target is through the six group matches to measure ourselves and to filter how far we have reached the desired quality for continental football in our attempt to put the second star on our badge.
“We want to be among the top two teams that are going to the quarterfinals.”
Orlando Pirates coach, Milutin Sredojevic. Picture: Thabang Lepule/Orlando Pirates Football Club
Pirates marched into the group stages after disposing of Light Stars of the Seychelles before dispatching off a stubborn African Stars of Namibia in the previous round.
Sredojevic is also mindful of the challenge of having to navigate across domestic and continental programmes.
“We are in three competitions now in 2019 - the Absa Premiership, the CAF Champions League and the Nedbank Cup,” he noted.
“Instead of being crying babies because of congestion, we should find solutions on how to do the things that will make us successful in all three competitions.
“We are extremely satisfied with the players we have. The commitment and dedication is there to make our supporters happy and our badge flying high. The best is yet to come.”
Sredojevic said the team will later consider rotating the squad to preserve them and protect them from possible injuries.
Meanwhile star attacker Vincent Pule said he was getting to grips with the harsh realities of club continental football.
“The game is very physical. You need to be brave because it is another level,” the winger told City Press.
“But with the team we have, we have the potential to do well. Home games are very important. You learn that you really have to get positive results no matter what and manage the game away.”
Bucs are also in the same group as Esperance of Tunisia and AC Horoya United of Guinea.
Other CAF fixtures involving South African clubs:
Friday - CAF Champions League
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Lobi Stars (Nigeria) – Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, 6pm
Sunday - CAF Conferation Cup
Kaizer Chiefs vs Zesco United (Zambia) - Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, 3pm