Orlando Pirates played a goalless draw against Congolese giants TP Mazembe in their friendly match at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola in Zambia yesterday (Thursday).
As confirmed on Bucs’ official website, the team’s head coach Milutin Sredojevic was impressed with what he saw from his players.
“We played a total of 120 minutes of football against TP Mazembe, one of the best teams in Sub-Saharan Africa. Maybe the match came early for us but we are happy with the result because it has set the criteria and standards that we need to reach in order to compete in Africa,” Sredojevic told Bucs’ website.
“This Mazembe team won the 2015 CAF Champions League title and won back-to-back CAF Confederations Cup titles in 2016 and 2017, and this is the standard we consistently needed to keep up with throughout the match,” added the coach.
“It was a tough and competitive game because of the difference in the level of competitiveness between the two teams; we are from a break and in preparation for a new season, while they are competing regularly. It was two-way traffic though, despite the levels, with both teams attacking each other like boxers. We believe that this experience has benefited our young players a lot, especially in helping them understand what it means to play in Africa and against strong opposition that plays in continental competition,” said the Serbian mentor.
Sredojevic has also given an analysis of how far his team has come and where they are since the start of the pre-season.
“We are practically finalising the third phase of our pre-season preparations and we will have three more weeks to fine tune the team both tactically and technically after this Zambian tour. We believe that we are on the right track. The important thing is to continue getting more game-time and we are slowly, gradually and progressively increasing the minutes of each player and once we reach the top competitive form, we believe that we shall succeed in giving our supporters positive results,” commented the coach.
“Our pre-season camp has helped us to set a strong foundation that will help us last in a very competitive season ahead. It’s too early to say we are at 100% but we are somewhere on the halfway line after three weeks. For us, it’s not important where we are at this stage because we are confident of where we are going. We now need to polish off our work and put the team in a position where the players are playing in accordance with our game model. Once we succeed in getting the players to understand our game model then we will be more effective in front of goals, whilst remaining solid defensively,” said Sredojevic.