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COMMENT: No goals scored in four games but Orlando Pirates should remain positive

19:33 SAST 2019/08/21
Rulani Mokwena
The Sea Robbers may have failed to score for the fourth successive game, but they should not be deterred ahead of Saturday's clash with Green Eagles

Orlando Pirates have not scored in four successive matches across all competitions, but they should remain positive after Tuesday's goalless draw in a Premier Soccer League (PSL) match against AmaZulu.

While the Soweto giants were not expected to be content with a draw against Usuthu, the truth is they have not been the same in recent weeks. 

Picking up a point away from home should motivate them to do better for their upcoming home, game which will be in the Caf Champions League against Green Eagles. 

Interim coach Rulani Mokwena received a baptism of fire in his first match in charge against Highlands Park in the MTN8, but while the young coach may not be ready to take over the reins on a permanent basis, he should be applauded for not being afraid to change things around in the team. 

Mokwena made six changes for their game against AmaZulu - something which is unusual for any team competing for league honours. 

However, he still managed to steal a point although the majority may be disappointed given the documented struggles of AmaZulu this season. 

Seated on four points from their three league matches, Pirates are still in with a chance to compete with the best in the league despite losing their high-profile coach Milutin Sredojevic. 

As things stand, it is very difficult to suggest how long they will take to recover from this early setback, but this is Pirates, and if Mokwena wants to silence his critics, he should start winning matches as soon as possible. 

On the horizon is a fixture which Pirates cannot afford to lose, especially after going 1-0 down away in the first leg.

Green Eagles wanted to score five past Pirates, but the players still fought hard to keep the scoreline respectable knowing the importance of participating in the competition. 

Despite his shock departure to Zamalek last week, Sredojevic left a team capable of competing on all fronts, and this adds the pressure on Mokwena not to dismantle what the Serbian mentor has built in the past two seasons. 

But apart from that, Mokwena has his own philosophy and must do things his own way to reach his full potential and get maximum points on a regular basis, although he shouldn't try too hard to put together a winning combination because that might be his biggest downfall. 

For instance, Mokwena started Asavela Mbekile and Happy Jele at centre-back, with Siphesihle Ndlovu as a right-back, while he had three left-footed players in Innocent Maela, Paseka Mako and Vincent Pule, often drifting from the left-wing.

This meant a higher workload for Thembinkosi Lorch on the right flank, while Gabadinho Mhango struggled alone upfront. 

Ndlovu often pushed forward because he was played out of position, and Pirates struggled to contain the AmaZulu attackers, who should have done a lot better to bury their chances on the day. 

Perhaps, it's time for Mokwena to give players who didn't get time under Sredojevic a chance to shine - after all, they are hungry and eager to shine. This was evident when Siphesihle Ndlovu came in to pull all the right strings in Tuesday's encounter.

Competing in three different competitions at the same time isn't an easy task, and Pirates have learned this the hard way. 

The cracks in this Pirates team have been there for some time now, and Sredojevic should have done something about this before ditching the team and leaving Mokwena to pick up the pieces.  

Nonetheless, Mokwena, who was still hoping to be under the wings of an experienced coach before standing on his own after rejecting several coaching offers in the past, must now stand up and be counted. 

There is no better time for him to prove his worth as a young South African coach than this one - more so at a big and underperforming club like Pirates. 

The Sea Robbers still have goalscoring problems, but they at least managed to keep a clean sheet this time around, which could a long way in restoring their confidence going forward.