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Orlando Pirates coach Zinnbauer defends Ofori after costly fumble

17:13 SAST 2020/11/30
Josef Zinnbauer, Orlando Pirates, October 2020
The Ghana number one’s blunder left the Soweto giants fighting back to bag at least a point at home against their visitors from Limpopo

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says goalkeeper Richard Ofori has been strong between the sticks for the Buccaneers and does not deserve blame for Saturday’s mistake in the 1-1 Premier Soccer League (PSL) home draw against Baroka FC.

The Ghana vice-captain failed to collect a corner-kick and spilt the ball into the path of Namibia defender Ananias Gebhardt, who fired home Baroka’s opener two minutes into the second half.

That saw Pirates fighting back to settle for a draw through substitute Tshegofatso Mabasa’s injury-time equaliser.

While Ofori’s fumble denied the Soweto giants maximum points and an opportunity to go second on the PSL table, Zinnbauer has come to the goalkeeper’s defence, acknowledging his exploits that have saved Pirates in previous games.

“Most times when a goalkeeper makes a mistake then you concede. But in our past games he was always there at the right moment, in the right situation, and he caught the ball – and today he lost the ball,” said Zinnbauer as per Times Live.

“But when a player makes a mistake and we concede, then that is so, and then we have to work for each other to still get the three points. We did this, and it was not enough for the three points, but enough for one point.

“It’s not a problem for me. If a goalkeeper saved and did very well in the past, and now he makes a mistake, it’s not normal, and it shouldn’t be, but we accept this. He works on this [taking the high ball], and it’s something he does well. But we cannot change the situation.

“If he had a good game, then we [would've] said, ‘Wow, good goalkeeper, he saved and took the crosses and he’s very stable.’ Now he makes a small mistake, and that’s what happened - and we work for each other, and the team fought for him. And, like I say, it was not enough, but it’s a point.”

Zinnbauer is not the first one to defend Ofori as captain Thulani Hlatshwayo also backed the former Maritzburg United goalkeeper after the match.

Despite the blunder, Ofori is most likely to start in goal for Pirates in their next league match against Cape Town City away on Saturday.