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Sredojevic wants hard work ahead of Soweto Derby

Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic reacts to a referee's decision Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates might have won their Telkom Knockout first round tie at home to Chippa United on Saturday but coach Milutin Sredojevic admits there is much work to be done before next weekend's Soweto derby.

Vincent Pule came on at half-time and then scored the 60th minute winner at the Orlando Stadium but Pirates were on the back-foot for much of the second half as their lowly opponents took the game to them.

"It is very hard to switch on after the FIFA break and get into a competitive mood," said the Pirates coach at the post-match press conference, reflecting on the absence of four of his players on international duty over the last 12 days.

Augustine Mulenga had to go off at half time with what the coach described as "thermo shock", feeling sick after his return from the tropical climes of Guinea Bissau with the Zambian national team to a cold night of football at the Orlando Stadium.

Justin Shonga also looked fatigued although he completed the full 90 minutes after also playing for Zambia in two African Nations Cup qualifiers against Guinea Bissau in the last fortnight.

Pirates also had Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch with the South African national team in the Seychelles, although neither played.

"Without using that as an excuse, it was not easy," added Sredojevic.

"Our intention was to dominate and penetrate and convert our chances and at the same time to make sure we stuck to our defensive duties, especially when the opponent went on the transition.

"I was satisfied with the first half showing except we were not effective going forward although we believed the breakthrough might come.

"The fresh legs of Vincent Pule made an impact but after he scored we subconsciously started dropping back in the last part of the game to try and protect our lead. We were up against a well-organised side and we are happy to have gone through and progressed to the second round.

"But at the same time there are so many things to be corrected. We don't want to hide behind the fact we have been on the FIFA break, we don't want hide behind the fact that half of our mins were focus on next Saturday's match against Kaizer Chiefs," he said.

The Soweto derby at Soccer City has already been sold out with more than 80 000 expected to attend.

"We will have to critically look at what was right and wrong today and then move forward as we plan for the next match ahead of us.

"Everyone knows what the derby means and a week to the game to keep a clean sheet is good but at the same moment we cannot be blind to what happened on the field. We walked a tightrope that we could have fallen off at any moment. Our players worked very hard, the clean sheet is a positive and when the goal came it was also at the right time.

"But we need to critically look at what didn't work. We cannot kid ourselves that everything was perfect because if we do that, we could hit the wall in front of 80 000 plus people next Saturday. We have one week to take care of a lot of critical things," added Sredojevic.