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Orlando Pirates' biggest problem surfaces again

16:48 SAST 2021/12/03
Fadlu Davids Mandla Ncikazi Orlando Pirates
The Buccaneers fired another round of blanks against Baroka FC in a 0-0 league draw in Soweto on Thursday night

Orlando Pirates' lack of a cutting edge up front continues to haunt the Sea Robbers.

After putting three goals past Stellenbosch FC and two past LPRC Oilers in the Caf Confederation Cup, it had been looking up for Bucs on the goal-scoring front.

But once more, their lack of firepower was exposed in the stalemate against Baroka, a game which Pirates dominated and should have won.

It's been the case too many times this season and while 14 goals in 13 league matches is not the worst record, it's the reason why Bucs are seventh and not higher up the standings.

When things don't go well, it's invariably the co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids who get the stick, and this was again the case after Thursday's setback.

But if a team outplays their opposition, only to miss simple chances, is it really the coach or in this case, coaches' fault?

Are injuries an excuse?

Pirates have had some key attacking players missing through injury, as Davids reminded us of in his post match interview with SuperSport TV.

"Let's be honest, Lepasa, Lorch and Pule are our starting front-three and it's clear that we're missing them," he said.

He's right to an extent in that Vincent Pule and Thembinkosi Lorch previously contributed well with goals and assists. With that said, neither of the two are out-and-out strikers, but rather a winger in Lorch's case and an attacking midfielder or number 10 in Pule's case.

They've chipped in with goals in their career, but cannot really be classified as true strikers.

Zakhele Lepasa meanwhile started last season with promise before getting injured, but is hardly a proven goal-scorer. In total, he's played just 12 top-flight league matches in his career and scored just twice.

So in mentioning the three 'strikers' Pirates have been missing, Davids has in a way also highlighted that Bucs don't really have any proven goal-scoring strikers in their side. They've relied too long on attacking midfielders, whether it's Lorch and Pule, or Linda Mntambo, Fortune Makaringe and Deon Hotto, to find the net.

Questionable signings

This is ultimately where Pirates seem to have gone wrong over the past couple of years. While happy to offload the likes of Luvuyo Memela, Augustine Mulenga, Thabiso Kutumela and Thamsanqa Gabuza, the new men coming in have failed to deliver up front.

That includes Terrence Dzvukamanja, last season's failed loan signing Jean-Marc Makusu Mundele, as well as Ghana forward Kwame Peprah, yet to score after making eight appearances this term.

Ongoing injuries to Tshegofatso Mabasa and Gabadinho Mhango’s loss of form have added to the problem but clearly it's in this department where Pirates are coming up short, and to hope that the likes of Lorch, Pule and Lepasa will fix that, is hoping for a lot.

The challenge is, there aren't too many reliable goal-scoring strikers in the PSL, and so Bucs may need to scour internationally - as the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs have done, to fill the void.