Milutin Sredojevic hopes Justin Shonga replicates his international form for Orlando Pirates

The Buccaneers replaced the defending champions at the top of the league standings as the title race intensifies

Orlando Pirates head coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic hopes Justin Shonga carries his scoring form for the Zambia national team to club level.

The promising striker scored two goals in back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers against Guinea-Bissau last week. 

“The moment he arrived back for training I asked him if he had brought his scoring boots with him. But seriously, he had his problems in July and August. He has improved a lot and has returned to where he belongs – in the starting line-up,” Sredojevic told the media.

Prior to the recent Fifa international break, Shonga was struggling to regain his scoring form and he was even booed by fans when he missed chances during a PSL match against AmaZulu FC earlier this month. 

“He worked really hard in the last match he was just unlucky to miss those chances which could have made him the hero. In that competitive mood, scoring at home and away against Guinea Bissau, this is something we are looking to bank on," he continued.

Shonga, who is competing with the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch, Vincent Pule and Augustine Mulenga for a place in the Bucs starting line-up, has netted once in nine league matches this season. 

"But it will not come automatically. He needs to fully focus on our shirt so that scoring goals transfers to the black and white colours of Pirates. I know that he is now fully focused and concentrated. Strikers get confidence by scoring goals," Micho added. 

Five Pirates players were on national team duty and Sredojevic is pleased to have them back ahead of their Telkom Knockout round of 16 match against Chippa United on Saturday.

“When players come back from the Fifa break it’s very hard to switch them on in a competitive mood. But we are happy that everyone is back – five of them, two with Bafana Bafana, one with Zimbabwe and two with the Zambian national team," he explained. 

“The rest of us, we have worked very hard when others were engaged internationally. We provide them with a level of competitiveness on a required level, knowing the importance of the match on Saturday," he concluded. 

Pirates will host Chippa at the Mecca of South African football, Orlando Stadium.