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Zinnbauer makes his mark at Pirates

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The German mentor has credited his players for buying in to his philosophy.

Josef Zinnbauer coach of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2019/20 game between Polokwane City and Orlando Pirates at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane,Limpopo the on 07 January 2020 © Kabelo Leputu/BackpagePix

The bemusement that greeted Josef Zinnbauer’s appointment as the new coach of Orlando Pirates is wearing off and the German mentor has credited his players for buying in to his philosophy.

Early in December, there was unrest from some members of the football fraternity – particularly the Ghost – who were astonished at the appointment of Zinnbauer as Micho Sredojevic’s replacement after interim Rhulani Mokwena had struggled to steer the Sea Robbers’ ship out of troubled waters.

Zinnabauer (pictured) was an unfamiliar figure in Africa, while his track record as coach left a lot to be desired, having only spent six months, between September 2014 to March 2015, with Bundesliga outfit Hamburger SV, where he held his ever highest coaching position.

But the 49-year-old coach didn’t waste time in shutting up his detractors and showing his tactical acumen, opening his campaign with a 3-1 victory over Black Leopards in the last game of 2019.

2020 then got off to a moderate start for Zinnbauer as his team played to an away 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic – conceding the equaliser, and losing two points, in the last 10 minutes of the game.

In their next assignment, another away match was on the cards.

But Zinnbauer’s men were not overwhelmed by exhaustion as they trounced Polokwane City 4-1 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night to climb to fifth on the log standings.

“We’ve had about 10-12 training sessions, which I think that maybe they were not enough.

“In the last three days, we couldn’t 100 percent work but we made a lot of analysis and real talk,” Zinnbauer said in his post-match reactions in Polokwane on Tuesday night.

“And I think that the team understands my philosophy.

“I hope in the next few days and months, we work on the system and get better.”

It may be too early to tip Zinnbauer to cut the mustard at Pirates, but there’s clearly been a change in gears upfront after the team managed to score eight goals in the last three matches.

Before his arrival Pirates played beautiful football that lacked the killer instinct needed up front, especially after striker Tshegofatso Mabasa had a slump in form.

And much of that disappointment was due to the fact Pirates is the only club in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) that has a finishing expert – former French striker Stephane Adam.

Enter Zinnbauer.

The German believes that his tactical game-plan will make the strikers sharp-shooters week-in and week-out.

“We want the ball, and we have a lot of possession. But we want an offensive approach and not defensive. I need offensive players,” he said.

“I think Pirates is an offensive club, and I think that we have a lot of supporters (who came out in numbers against Rise and Shine) and they came out to support us. And we want to have fun in the game. It’s not always possible but I am happy with what I saw in the first division today.”

That offensive approach has already been evident. Malawian-born striker Gabadinho Mhango scored a first half hat-trick against City, taking his tally to four goals in two matches, while he’s already notched 10 league strikes in just 14 appearances.

“I am happy that I have him (Mhango) here, and I hope that he’ll continue to score in the next match,” Zinnbauer said.

Mihlali Baleka