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Bucs defence must step up

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AmaZulu will test The Orlando Pirates back four tomorrow

The sooner Orlando Pirates fix their defensive issues, the readier they’ll be to compete on all fronts in domestic football.

There has been a breath of fresh air that has hung over the Parktown-based team in the last two months following the arrival of coach Josef Zinnabuer, who has led the team to 13 points out of 15.

The Buccaneers achieved that feat in impressive fashion, scoring 12 goals in five matches, while striker Gabadinho Mhango contributed a whopping eight goals in that tally, hence he currently leads the league’s scoring charts with 12 goals.

It is safe to say Zinnbauer has found the team’s mojo up front. However, Pirates’ leaky defence, which has conceded four goals and kept only one clean sheet in those five outings, should be a source of concern for the German.

However, that won’t be an easy fix, especially with the issue having persisted for the last 18 months.

After all, if you recall, it was defensive blunders that ensured Pirates lost the Premiership title to Mamelodi Sundowns last season, despite being top of the table until the penultimate round of matches.

And instead of the club addressing those defensive issues with quality signings during the pre-season transfer window, they went on to acquire midfielders, something that saw then interim coach Rhulani Mokwena chopping and changing his engine room – as they conceded 16 goals in 11 matches.

Transformed

Nonetheless, having Pirates transformed from a team that floated in the bottom half of the log standings to a side that’s competing for a top three finish in recent weeks, there’s ample of belief from the Ghost that Zinnbauer could actually make the Bucs run like a well-oiled machine once again.

So much so that the Sea Robbers will be hoping to continue with their resurgence tomorrow (3.30pm kick-off) when they welcome AmaZulu to their fortress, Orlando Stadium, for the German’s sixth game in charge of the team.

Usuthu make the around 600km trip from Durban to Soweto low on confidence as they occupy the basement of the Premiership standings following an underwhelming start to the season under Cavin Johnson and his successor and current coach Jozef Vukusic.

However, while Usuthu will wear the underdogs caps, Pirates will be naïve to take them for granted, especially with the on-form striker Bonginkosi Ntuli, who’s notched up 10 of the team’s 11-goals this season, in their midst.

With Ntuli bringing his rich vein of form to Orlando that will spice things up a bit in the race for the Golden Boot award as he’ll come up against the league’s top goal scorer and Pirates marksman Mhango, who’ll be hoping to score in his sixth successive match.

As hugely anticipated as that battle between Mhango and Ntuli will be by the members of the football fraternity, Pirates’ defence will have to do their best in helping to consolidate the home ground advantage for the duration of the match.

And that is why they’ll have to guard against taking their foot off the pedal in the second half, as has been that the case in the last five matches.