Orlando Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic sat for a while in the dugout at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban after his team beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 to advance to the final of the Telkom Knockout.
He was probably saying a thankful prayer, as Saturday’s win brought him relief and made it possible for him to end the team’s four-year barren run.
Pirates looked good for the win when Thembinkosi Lorch put them in front 13 minutes into the match but Leonardo Castro cancelled that lead five minutes later, when he equalised for Chiefs.
But an 84th-minute goal by Justin Shonga ensured Pirates will be at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for the final on December 8.
Sredojevic said the win demanded a lot from his team.
“Anyone who knows anything about this funny and unpredictable game knows it is very hard to play a match of this magnitude twice in a short space of time.
“It is not an ordinary match but an extraordinary match. If you know surgery, this is like neurosurgery,” said the Serbian mentor.
He said they’d had to come up with a better plan for the second half as Amakhosi had gained confidence after equalising.
“We knew after they equalised that they had momentum, so we had to manage the game.
“We wanted to be more patient in the build-up in the second half. We wanted to break them, but we were aware that they wanted to catch us on a counter.
“I want to give the credit to the players for giving their best.
“They said they wanted to get to the final and they did it.
“The technical team had sleepless nights and their hard work has paid off. The pressure fuels us.
“Winning three derbies in a year is something special that I don’t think has happened in a long time,” said Sredojevic.
He said for Augustine Mulenga to have come on and made the assist for Shonga’s goal was big for Zambian strikers after they failed to help Chipolopolo to qualify for the Caf Africa Cup of Nations.
“Shonga and Mulenga have come from a setback … but the best football response is to bounce back,” he said.
Sredojevic’s team will now prepare for their Caf Champions League campaign, which starts on Wednesday, they have a league match against Maritzburg United and a return leg of the Champions League match before the final.