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Stand-in Bucs coach keen for first win

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Former Maritzburg United coach Fadlu Davids stands to receive praise if he bags Orlando Pirates first league win of the new season after they failed to get their campaign up and running with two draws to start the season.

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Fadlu Davids will be hoping the Buccaneers secure full points against Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng, African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates’ assistant coach Fadlu Davids will have his job cut out for him on Wednesday evening when he takes charge of the dugout against a defiant Bloemfontein Celtic side in the DStv Premiership.

Pirates’ head coach Josef Zinnbauer is on compassionate leave back home in Germany after his son Fabio was involved in a life-threatening car accident and has been in a coma for almost two weeks.

But before his abrupt departure on Saturday night, Zinnbauer led his charges to a convincing 3-0 win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals – a feat that could prove to be invaluable in their silverware aspirations.

Pirates, though, will be hoping to build on that momentum heading into tonight’s match. Three points against Celtic will be a much-needed boost for the Buccaneers heading into the semi-final return leg of the Soweto Derby away on Sunday.

But the man who will be in the spotlight is Davids.

Should things go south for the Buccaneers, the 39-year-old will be on the receiving end of a backlash from ‘The Ghost’ as someone who undid all Zinnabuer’s hard work thus far.

Equally, former Maritzburg United commander-in-chief Davids stands to receive praise if he bags his team’s first league win of the new season after the team failed to get their campaign up and running with two draws to start the season.

Having been with the club for almost four seasons, Davids is one of the longest serving members of Pirates’ current technical team, so expect him to know the current crop of players like the back of his hand.

Defensively the Buccaneers appear to be slowly but surely gelling as a unit, having kept two clean sheets and conceding two goals in four matches following the arrival of Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ghanaian No 1 Richard Ofori.

But what’s a solid defence without a stable engine room? Almost non-existent. It was pleasing on the eye when former Bidvest Wits anchor Thabang Monare excelled on his debut in the derby against his former coach Gavin Hunt.

However, what must have made the transition seamless from Braamfontein to Mayfair for former Wits’ players Hlatshwayo, Monare, Terrence Dzvukamanja and Deon Hotto was arriving to familiar faces in Vincent Pule, Gabadinho Mhango and Ben Motshwari.

Much has been scripted about the Sea Robbers’ attacking contingent since the ‘bio-bubble’ having failed to show the same zest and fire as they did in Zinnbauer’s early days at the club.

But that they put three past Chiefs could mean they’ve turned the corner.

Zakhele Lepasa, a highly-rated striker, could be close to reaching the standards he’s appeared to be capable of having scored the opening goal against Chiefs after starting and finishing the game in the place of the injured Mhango.

Davids, though, should take confidence from the fact that he heads into the Celtic clash with a much reinvigorated Thembinkosi Lorch, the 2018/19 Footballer of the Season who dished up a five-star performance in the derby.

@Mihlalibaleka