'I'm not a magician': Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer shifts focus to next season
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has conceded that the league title race is over for the Bucs, as he looks to rebuild his squad for next season.
Pirates’ 1-0 defeat to long-time leaders Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby at the weekend has left the Buccaneers nine points adrift of Amakhosi, who have played one match fewer, on the standings.
Zinnbauer's charges are also two points behind second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played two matches fewer because of their Caf Champions League commitments.
“We have to focus on next season. These were my words when I arrived in SA to work with Pirates. We look from one game to the next. The target is to improve the squad for next season,” he said.
“We come from 11th or 8th on the log and we were 21 points behind Chiefs. Now we are nine points behind Chiefs, but the season is not finished.
“We don’t speak about the title because Sundowns and other teams have a better chance against Chiefs.”
While Zinnbauer would not be drawn on where he hoped to see Pirates finish at the end of the campaign, second and third spots — which secure places in the Champions League and Confederation Cup respectively — are still up for grabs.
“The next game is the same — we want three points. And then come Sundowns and Wits, which are the next big teams in the league,” said the German coach.
“Our focus is on next week, but we have a lot of work to get the boys to keep their heads up. We hope we do our best to get three points in the next match against Golden Arrows and we will see what happens against Sundowns.
“They need points for the title and we need points to improve. We are not in title focus, we are in focus to improve the squad and that is the target for us.
“You saw that Chiefs have a lot of experience — I have been here for 10 weeks or so and I am not a magician.
“The result against Chiefs is not good, but the performance was good. The derby is over but I can say that we have to improve the squad more and more. We have young players like Kabelo Dlamini and he needs experience to grow up, to improve the team.
“We made build-ups and we had counterattacks against Chiefs, but we will go to the players and ask them to have self-confidence because we made a good performance.
“This derby was my dream [to win] but it is important that we improve the team for next season.”