“The coach wants the heart more than the talent. I think that we’ve showed character (in the last couple of weeks)”
Orlando Pirates winger Vincent Pule (pictured) is of the notion that the new dawn that has engulfed the Buccaneers in recent weeks has been inspired by a touch of character and luck.
On December 21 a cloud of uncertainty hung over the Orlando Stadium as coach Josef Zinnbauer, an unfamiliar figure, was set to take charge of his first match after being announced as Micho Sredojevic’s replacement.
For the members of the football fraternity – particularly the Ghost – this appointment was viewed as a recipe for disaster, especially after the German boasted an underwhelming track record of a 38 percent win ratio in his coaching career.
Zinnbauer’s tenure, though, got off to an impressive start as his troops defeated the relegation-haunted Black Leopards by 3-1. Well, that was still not enough to earn him plaudits early on.
However, with a few uninterrupted training sessions during the Christmas break, Zinnbauer had time to imprint his philosophy on the Pirates’ team.
During the first month of the second half of the season, the hard work carried out by Zinnbauer and his team during the festive season yielded instant results; the German worming his way into the heart of the Ghost with four wins and a draw in five matches.
And after the final whistle blew after their 1-0 victory over AmaZulu at home on Saturday night, the 49-year-old coach walked by the grandstand, embracing the Ghost with handshakes, hugs and selfies.
“The coach wants the heart more than the talent. I think that we’ve showed character (in the last couple of weeks),” said Pule, the solitary goal scorer of the night.
“We have to match the efforts of the other teams. When they come here, they want to fight. We don’t have to be complacent and start showing off. But I think that we are on the right track and we’ll continue fighting.”
The glimmer of light that has shone during Zinnbauer’s tenure has made many wonder whether the club wasted its time by giving Rhulani Mokwena, who held the coaching post on an interim basis after the departure of Sredojevic, a shot after he only managed to bag only 14 points in 11 matches.
Pule, though, who had last scored under Mokwena in the 3-2 loss against Kaizer Chiefs in November, before Saturday’s game, says the team’s underwhelming outing in the first half of the season was due to being unfortunate.
“In the first round, we were not scoring goals but we were conceding. I think now it’s better, we are scoring quicker goals, especially with the chances that we are getting in the first half of the matches,” he explained.
“I think that’s better because we are winning games. In the first half of the season we needed luck and now we are getting the luck and that’s why we are scoring goals and managing to get full points.”
Pirates’ resurgence in recent weeks has put the team among the chasing pack on the log standings as they are fourth with 33 points, 12 behind leaders Chiefs.
However, tipping the Buccaneers as title contenders would be jumping the gun for now and that’s why Pule is hopeful that they can finish in the top three, where they will seal qualification for continental football.