Orlando Pirates coach Zinnbauer’s headache over after Mhango, Mabasa return

Frank Mhango, Alfred Ndengane, Tshegofatso Mabasa & Josef Zinnbauer, Orlando Pirates, December 2019
Orlando Pirates
The Buccaneers recently played some of their matches without an outright striker after injuries hit their camp, but this seems to be in the past

Orlando Pirates coach Joseph Zinnbauer says he no longer has a selection headache following the return of key forwards Frank Mhango and Tshegofatso Mabasa from injury.

The pair featured in Pirates’ last two league games, against Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United, although they played cameo roles in those games.

The injury crisis up front saw the German tactician playing the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch, Deon Hotto and Azola Tshobeni as number nines.

Although other strikers Zakhele Lepasa and Jean-Marc Makusu are still out injured, Zinnbauer admitted that he no longer feels the burden as in recent weeks.

“I have had a headache before in the last weeks without strikers. It was more headache unlike now,” Zinnbauer told the media.

“Yes it’s coming closer now but you see Tshego [Mabasa] and Gaba [Mhango] need more time.

"Gaba works very hard but you can see he is not the old Gaba we had before and Tshego as well. But I am happy about this I have no headache about these players coming back. No, I go forward.

“Now I have to fight and the fight is always good for us when we have some competition in the squad and now we can move forward.”

What is also pleasing Zinnbauer is that Pirates are now second on the Premier Soccer League standings after dismissing Chippa United 3-0 on Saturday.

The victory away in Gqeberha was a follow-up to the narrow mid-week 1-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic, as they edged closer to securing a Caf Champions League spot for next season.

For the first time since November 2020, Pirates have managed to complete two league matches with successive wins after beating Chippa and Celtic.

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“The situation in football is always changing you cannot say the performance is very well at the snap of the fingers. It’s always changing,” continued Zinnbauer.

“The last time we played against 10 men [Celtic] and I was frustrated we did not have top performance but the results. But now it’s better we always need a bit of a wake-up call and when we have the results then we have no problems for the coach.”

Pirates now prepare to leave for Ghana where they will play their opening Caf Confederation Cup group match against Algerian side ES Setif on March 10.