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Zinnbauer wants Bucs to pick up where they left off

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Before the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a five-month standstill, Zinnbauer was worming his way into the hearts of “The Ghost”, and making his name as one of best foreign coaches in the top-flight this season.

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer is hoping his squad can shake off the cobwebs quickly when they take on powerhouse Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Picture: BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has shrugged off the fear of the unknown from the long lay-off ahead of their season’s restart on Tuesday, pledging there’ll be a good feeling all round from his charges.

Before the coronavirus pandemic brought football to a five-month standstill, Zinnbauer was worming his way into the hearts of “The Ghost”, and making his name as one of best foreign coaches in the top-flight this season.

In his first 11 matches at the club, Zinnbauer’s Pirates won seven, drew three and lost one. Not only was the Buccaneers’ eye-catching football pleasing to the management who defied the German’s unpopularity in Africa, but it brought a frenzy to The Ghost, who saw their club return to championship contention after a poor start.

The Buccaneers are fourth on the standings with 40 points, three adrift of log leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who’ve played one game less. But as much as they may not be out of the title race, Zinnbauer says their sole focus is continuing where they left off before the break.

“We have a good feeling (ahead of the restart),” Zinnbauer said.

“The previous games were good for us. The success was there, so we have a good feeling. We’ve implemented small inputs and systems but haven’t had time to prepare much in terms of the Zoom sessions.”

Pirates return to competitive football this evening (6pm) without the backing of their 12th man as the new normal in South African football has demanded the restart to be played under a supervised ‘bio-bubble’ in Gauteng.

They face fellow championship hopefuls Mamelodi Sundowns, who have already got a feel of playing under the new normal after seeing off Bidvest Wits 3-2 in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

Given that Sundowns are a step ahead in terms of adaptation, Zinnbauer suggested that Pitso Mosimane’s charges have a slight advantage ahead of their top-of-the-table clash.

“Yes, I think they have the feeling of 90 minutes and my team doesn’t. They have the experience because they won the game. They have confidence and ours is zero. We still have to check whether we are ready for 90 minutes and what’s the level of our conditioning.”

Having already defeated Sundowns in the first round at Orlando Stadium earlier this year, completing a double over the champions would go a long way in enriching Zinnbauer’s impressive start. He knows that won’t be easy, but backs his troops.

“We are ready. There’s a good feeling within the squad and we are happy that we can start against Sundowns,” Zinnabuer said.

“It’s a good point (of reference for us) because they are one of the best teams with a good concentration level in the squad that is at 100 percent.”

With sixth-placed Wits still in contention for the title, it appears there’ll be a thrilling race to the finish line but Zinnbauer has cut a modest figure, distancing his Pirates side from the race and saying their plan is to finish on a high note and prepare for next season.

“Both teams (Chiefs are Sundowns) are the ones that are fighting for the title this year. I’ve said it for a long time, especially considering that it’s my first time here, we are preparing the team for next season.”

@Mihlalibaleka