Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic explains new-look central defensive pairing
Posted: 21 August 2017 Time: 08:59
Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic has explained his decision to introduce the completely new central defence pairing of Gladwin Shitolo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza at the weekend.
Shitolo and Nyauza responded by giving a polished showing as Pirates recorded a 1-0 win over Chippa United in the opening round of Absa Premiership action, coming as a big boost for a team that conceded 52 goals in all competitions last season.
Though able to play at centre-back, Shitolo has usually been deployed in central midfield while Nyauza has normally operated as a right back.
“In preparation for this match [against Chippa], we looked at ourselves and looked at the opposition,” notes Sredojevic.
“At the same moment, we knew what we needed against [Moeketsi] Sekola, against [Menzi] Masuku and [Andile] Mbenyane. So we needed to field a central defence that has elements of speed and elements of correction in defending.
“So we put Nyauza, who is usually right-back, at central because of his aggressiveness. He had top class results from the point of preparation since we have started. He fully deserved to play and he has backed it up with the performance.
“Also, Shitolo, who is usually a central midfielder, we put him at centre back. We wanted to play two central defenders, one that has aggressiveness and speed and the other knows how to deal with the ball so that we have passing from behind. But I believe both of them did a good job.”
The Serb also threw in Wayne Sandilands between the posts for his Pirates debut, with new boy Innocent Maela starting at left-back, while captain Thabo Matlaba operated at right-back in a new-look defence.
“Thabo Matlaba and Wayne Sandilands have the experience and we have put on their shoulders the responsibility to lead with maturity and seniority the new-look defence,” the coach continues.
“We also had a player like Innocent Maela who I personally told to play his football like he is on the training field. If things are okay then take the credit and he took the credit as you could see.
“I am happy that he played the way he did and provided the assist to the goal. Still very far from what it is supposed to be but one of the crucial points is to keep as many clean sheets as possible. We are happy that we have kept a clean sheet.”