Milutin Sredojevic concedes to fate in Orlando Pirates stalemate with Baroka

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Pirates’ Absa Premiership title charge took a knock as they missed out on an opportunity to go level with log leaders Bidvest Wits on Tuesday evening.

The Buccaneers were pegged back by Bakgaga, who resorted to rather dubious tactics, and were made to carve out a 1-1 draw with an equalising goal eventually coming at the death.

It was a night of frustration for Bucs and their supporters alike after Mabeba opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick after just 14 minutes, as Wedson Nyirenda’s charges then feigned injury at every given opportunity to disrupt the flow of the game.

'Micho' conceded that though they planned up to the smallest details of their defensive setup, the individual effort by the 28-year-old winger was difficult to anticipate.

“There are things in football you can plan, and there are in things in football that you can’t plan [for],” said Micho post-match.

“Defensively we really wanted to take care of the manner and place in which we lose the ball; we wanted to take care of how we react when we lose the ball and how we shape up in defence.

“We also wanted to take care of how we would stop them from penetrating us in open play, while also ensuring we dealt with set-pieces.

“However, you can do all this but there are still things you cannot plan for, so credit must be given to ‘China’ [Mabeba] for this goal – it was similar to his goal against Bidvest Wits in the [Telkom Knockout] cup.”

The Serbian also felt their dominance through the match was deserving of more than a point and outlined the lengths they went to in order to get more from the tie.

“Before that we were dominating and we had a great chance when [Paseko] Mako set [Justin] Shonga up with that cut-back, which we should have scored, but they literally had only one shot on goal and we still did not get what we wanted,” he added.

“We tried to go forward with a fast build-up but credit to the opponent, they went with two strategies – one, limiting time and space with aggressive numbers and a so-called ‘triple-decker bus’, and two, whenever we had momentum they knew when to delay by going down on the ground.

“I’m happy that we did not lose our heads in the second half, when we made the tactical changes of bringing on Thembinkosi Lorch to be a third number-10 and leaving ‘Figo’ Mntambo alone in central midfield, and though it did not give us an immediate effect we still dominated.

“We then tried everything by putting [Thamsanqa] Gabuza and Kuda [Mahachi] to go all-out attack, defending only with two defenders as we threw everything at them, and we got repaid with the equaliser. We tried our best to get the winning goal, but it was not meant to be.

“Credit to our players, for it was one of those days where you see in their eyes, faces and body language that they were giving everything on the field but still it was not enough to get what we wanted.”