Zinnbauer: Orlando Pirates should not think about the league title
Orlando Pirates’ focus this season is on improvement of the players and squad, coach Josef Zinnbauer has said, emphasising that Bucs should not let themselves be distracted or carried away with thoughts of a league title in 2019-20.
Zinnbauer capped his impressive start at Pirates with the January Absa Premiership Coach of the Month Award on Thursday, confirmation of form that has seen Bucs win six out of seven games and draw one to surge from seventh place to second under the German.
Zinnbauer said Pirates’ aim, of course, is to finish as high as they can. But the coach warned that realistically Bucs – nine points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, but having played a game more – are probably too far behind to consider themselves genuine challengers.
The coach suggested Bucs are also just not the finished product he is striving for yet to harbour such lofty ambitions.
“We always have the focus on the table, but not on first position or second position. We look at us,” Zinnbauer said.
“I said this a few weeks ago – we always look at the next game. That’s what is important for us.
“The focus for us is to improve the team more and more. We are not at the time where we can say we compete now against the big teams in the league. It’s very hard, the games, at the moment.
“You could see on Sunday against Wits [in a penalties Nedbank Cup defeat]. They have quality players in their side. Next week against Chiefs – they have quality players.
“We have quality players too. But at the moment the focus is on the next game, and improving the squad more and more in the system – with the ball and without the ball.
“That’s the focus, and maybe then we will get points. We have to focus for the next week on the next three points, not the title.
“The title is top, yes. But it’s not the moment where we speak about titles in this season.
“We have a lot of points less than the other clubs. The other clubs have a lot of games less than us.
“And at the moment I look at the table and say, ‘Yes, second place’. But we know football – important for us is to improve the players, the squads and the staff.”
Pirates’ Nedbank last-32 defeat against Wits was Zinnbauer’s first loss in eight league and cup games since his appointment on December 12. The penalties result at Orlando Stadium followed a 120-minute thriller that ended 3-3 at the end of extra time.
Bucs meet Black Leopards at Thohoyandou Stadium in the league on Sunday, then Chiefs in a long sold-out Soweto derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday, February 29.