Early this month, Rwanda appointed Sredejovic Milutin Micho as the head coach of Amavubi team replacing Sellas Tetteh, who failed to guide Rwanda to 2012 Africa Nations Cup finals due in equatorial Guinea/Gabon in January.
As Micho starts his new job, Times Sport reporter Bonnie Mugabe had an exclusive interview him on Thursday and below is the excerpts of the interview.
Tell the readers how you have adapted to your new work in Rwanda. How do you see the land of a thousand hills?
I count myself (an African) after ten years in African football, (am living) my African dream, especially the first time I guided SC Vila (Uganda) to its first match against APR.
Because I have been physically in Africa and many times in Rwanda, in my mind I have been very much present in Rwandan football through all the friendships I have established in all situations where I have assisted.
That friendship is the same like having a cake ready to put the cream. I have come to be the national coach with passion and approach the game from bottom to top.
So when you having something like that, I simply feel excited and full of motivation and ready for the challenge in-front of us, my cooperation with my assistant coaches Jean Marie Ntagwabira and Eric Nshimiyimana is very constructive.
The same applies to the medical team, goalkeeping coach. The first touch and sense with the players as the coach is also fantastic because they are doing their best.
Knowing the pressure that comes along with this position, how prepared are you for it?
Look...all I can say, I have been in this job for the last 18 years and the last ten years, I have been in Africa. In my career, managing a club was the biggest and it comes with lots of pressures.
In SC Villa where I took consecutive league titles, Cecafa club championship and national cup, and left many players playing professional football abroad and since I left, they have unfortunately never won any trophy.
So pressure which came from there and later alone with St. George, the biggest club in Ethiopia where I won five consecutive league titles and going to South Africa to coach Orlando Pirates where pressure is tremendous and I achieved the best results in the last 15 years and reaching the semi final of the Orange Champions League.
I proceeded to Al Hilal where, I wrote history by reaching twice the finals of Caf Confederation Cup and did so well in Caf Champions League this year.
This put me in position that I was the most successful coach in their history, so pressures in Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa have simply taught me a lesson that no one can put pressure on me except God.
And that’s why every morning I pray to God to help me do and be the best and before I go to bed, I thank him for enabling me to achieve the best. So I use such approach and this helps me to carry on my shoulder all elements of pressure.
So with a national team, I am fully aware that my shoulders have the responsibility of carrying 11 million dreams of Rwandans who love their national team, their football, so on that note, it is a huge responsibility.
Pressure or no pressure, the most important thing is that I will exhaust all the experience I obtained in the last ten years in order to fulfill the mission of moving Rwandan football forward.
So I will do everything possible in order to succeed but at the moment, I don’t want to be an excuse maker or a cry-baby but the fact is that national coach is one important part in the engine of Rwandan football.
All stake holders should do their responsibilities because for us to move ahead, we need to do it as a team. So leave all the pressures to me because they are on good shoulders to carry 11 million dreams.
Do you feel any extra pressure replacing [Sellas] Tetteh, a Fifa U-20 Fifa World Cup winner and flopped on his mission to guide Amavubi to success?
I have great respect to Sellas Tetteh for everything he has achieved and do have a good relationship with him. I have a different view and vision because I believe working in four East African countries where culture are similar and for him he belongs to West Africa where their football culture is different.
I have great respect to him and every coach (Ratomir, Kuze, Tucak, Roger Palmgren, and Michael Nees) that has passed through Rwanda.
I want to put the benchmark which has been moved from his side by introducing certain elements into national team. I believe I will continue from where he has stopped and even move further forward.
How can you describe your training styles? How do you motivate your players?
Let me tell you something; everything is naturally processed. For example, when a husband makes love to his wife, a natural process to get a baby is nine months.
So national team coaches are extremely limited to time of having to process in training, and that is why it is different for a husband to sleep with his wife and after 15 days, he asks her to give him a baby, so this can’t be possible because it is unnatural process.
But in such unnatural process, I try in the shortest possible time to squeeze players and the training process as a lemon in order to get the best out of them. I have learnt from the best coaches in the world and being a member of world class coaches’ forums has helped me to learn a lot.
I have to follow the new methodologies and adjust them in training because football is moving and it is not good to rely on the same old tactics and techniques.
For example, the moment of ball winning and ball scoring in 1990 Italy World Cup was 12.3 seconds but last year in South Africa, it moved to 3, 4 or 5 seconds faster and this means that the training process needs to be changed as well.
Football today is demanding an extreme element of speed endurance, power and endurance, explosive power and speed itself. Just like the cook knows how to prepare his best meal, we coaches know how to get the best recipes for achieving results and my main factor here is to make our football faster.
My tastes inside the training process is be able to excel by seeing because you can’t come to a country and simply impose something. From the first training session, I wanted to test the players and see their mental fitness, technical and tactical abilities.
We want to beat Eritrea, win Cecafa, qualify to Africa Cup of Nations but how do we achieve this?
The answer is working hard in training.
After assuming the role of Amavubi team coach, have you had a second thought on the decision you took?
Look….I will tell you something. I have been on crossroads and those crossroads have led me to my pure Africa, Rwanda, and other two roads led me to different directions in North Africa in Ismail of Egypt, Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
But with all due respect to them, I didn’t see myself fitting in those environment, because I believe when I work, I need to see space for improvement and inside these boys; I am seeing a tremendous room for improvement.
That space for improvement is my driving factor which helps me to be motivated in whatever I am doing that’s why I don’t regretted accepting this offer. I never have regrets because I am happy with what I have achieved in life.
Is it your first time to coach a national team, what legacy do you want to leave behind?
It is not my first time to coach a national team. I have already been the youngest coach in history of Serbia to be the coach of U-17 in 1996 at 27 years and in 2001, I was the coach of Serbia amateur national team which reached the European championship where we beat Croatia, Czech Republic, and Portugal and lost to Spain.
So, when you ask me about legacy, I have come because it is a tremendous challenge for me and when I analyse all the people, who have worked with this team, am the longest serving foreign coach in Cecafa region, so all the knowledge I have got going all over Africa, I will try to use it here.
I wonder why Rwanda with such talent, resources and the good will from the government has not managed to be among Africa’s best football nations. We need to look at whatever has gone wrong or good so that we correct it or make improvements.
There are so many good things but they are not all good at the same levels, they are mixed; there are good things and bad one, so we must stick to the good and correct the bad.
I need to assess the situation and see which directions to go and in this job you cannot afford to tell people that you’re doing something and never show results, results are the identity card of any coach.
My first target is to achieve results. I am born a winner and I know that these players are also born winners.
Rwanda didn’t get a coach but Rwanda got the servant, soldier who has total commitment, dedication, and loyalty in serving them.
What message can you give to football fans, who have shunned the national team due to failure to achieve results in the past, such that they can return to the stand and support their team?
Amavubi team belongs to Rwandans. Without Rwandans, there is no Amavubi team. Amavubi is like a baby of Rwandese. So you cannot denounce your baby just because he/she has faulted.
I’m telling the fans that we have a started a journey and there are many good times ahead of us, so I request them to come in big numbers, support their team and turn Amahoro stadium into a fortress for visiting teams.
The team needs them as our 12th man, so if we succeed in that field, then there is no way players will let them down. In Africa, supporters are goal celebrators, but I want Rwandans to be goal creators as we embark on this exciting journey together.