Josef Zinnbauer admits Pirates lacked conviction in cup win over Uthongathi
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer is worried that striker Gabadinho Mhango might have picked up yet another injury in their 1-0 Nedbank Cup‚ last-32 win over Uthongathi FC at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Zinnbauer has been frustrated by injuries to strikers, with Zakhele Lepasa and Tshegofatso Mabasa‚ who started the season in form and important to Bucs’ movement up front‚ out for weeks.
In that time‚ the coach’s efforts to nurse Mhango back to form have also been hampered by niggling injuries.
Last season’s Premiership joint top-scorer scored when starting in a 3-0 league win against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC (TTM)‚ but aggravated a muscle injury that meant he missed a game‚ then played two as a substitute‚ missed a game‚ and played two more as a substitute.
Such inconsistency in line-ups can be detrimental to a striker‚ who needs game time to establish confidence in front of goal.
Mhango got just a second start in eight games against Uthongathi‚ and struck the 63rd-minute winner‚ before being substituted in the 68th with Zinnbauer indicating the Malawian might have left the field due to his muscle strain flaring up again.
Zinnbauer admitted it was an unconvincing win for Bucs against the GladAfrica Championship’s sixth-placed team.
“I think this was not a good game for us. We have the lead in this game but it’s normal‚ we had opportunities and that’s normal. But we did not have this power in the final third that you need‚” the coach said.
“Normally you can decide this game earlier. ... But the result is important. For players on the bench‚ for ‘Pepe’ [20-year-old debutant Thabiso Sesane] it was good he could play.
“And also minutes for ‘Gaba’ [Mhango]‚ and a goal. But I don’t know what’s happened now – whether it’s his muscle or it was protecting. We have to ask.
“But at the end of the day, it’s the result that’s important for us and that we go through to the next round.”
Goalkeeper Richard Ofori also limped off with a muscle strain in the second half‚ and was replaced by Siyabonga Mpontshane.
“This was a muscle problem. And we protected him and changed‚” Zinnbauer said.
Game time for Mhango seems crucial for the striker‚ but Zinnbauer was not sure he will be available for fifth-placed Pirates’ DStv Premiership meeting against sixth-placed Cape Town City at Orlando on Tuesday.
“Yes‚ we have to wait for the other [injured] strikers and we cannot change the moment. We have to work with these players who we have‚ and I’m happy Gaba scored‚” he said.
“I don’t know what’s happened with his muscles. This happened the last time also – he scored but then had a problem with his muscles.
“We have to see and I hope he is available for the next game.”
Given Mhango’s niggles‚ Zinnbauer would have been happy that Democratic Republic of the Congo striker Jean-Marc Mundele also got a run of just over 20 minutes off the bench against Uthongathi.