Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer explains the reasons behind his chopping and changing
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says it is the frequency of games coming thick and fast that is necessitating a high turnover of line-up changes from his league title contenders.
Bucs had a rough January.
After going 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions to the end of December‚ Zinnbauer’s team wobbled to two defeats‚ a draw and a win‚ as matches came thick and fast last month.
For Pirates Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Cape Town City at Orlando Stadium was a 10th game in the space of 30 days going back to their 1-1 league draw against Swallows FC on January 10.
It was also a seemingly crucial result as Bucs have stabilised somewhat in their last six matches‚ which have included just one loss‚ and four wins and two draws. The three points also kept Pirates five points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns‚ though the Brazilians have two games in hand.
Zinnbauer has drawn criticism for seemingly too many personnel changes from game to game — five‚ four and four in the three matches before meeting City. From a 1-0 Nedbank Cup win against GladAfrica Championship Uthongathi FC on Saturday‚ though‚ just three changes to the win against City seemed to bring some solidity and confidence.
“It’s not always so easy when you have problems after games — like last week it was [Vincent] Pule and before it was [Paseka] Mako‚” Zinnbauer said‚ asked if he might aim for greater consistency in line-ups now‚ and to explain the many changes of personnel and systems.
“And players always have problems with muscles‚ like [Bongani] Sam last week. And that’s a problem when you have a lot of games in a short time‚ and you always have to manage this.
“Now our [next] game is on Sunday‚ and we have a bit more time for recovery. And ... we didn’t change a lot of players [from Uthongathi to City].
“But we need the right conditioning for the next game. You saw [Thabang] Monare come out — I hope it’s not too serious. But I saw him after the game and I think he feels good.
“ ... I know the supporters are saying‚ ‘Why does the coach change so much’‚ or why do players not play in the right positions — like [Siphesihle] Ndlovu [against City]. At the moment we don’t have right fullbacks‚ with three injured‚ and this was the reason Ndlovu played in that position.
“These are the things you have to manage as a coach. And it’s not so easy. ... We have now had 10 or 11 games in 30 days‚ and it’s a lot for the players‚ and the squad has worked very well.
“But you have to find them the new structure‚ like Deon Hotto on Tuesday‚ playing at No.9. And he’s not a ‘9’‚ but at the moment we have no other striker. And in the game you need players who are in a rhythm.
“These are the things the players have to understand now — that they help us in the team and the squad to play in different positions. These are the things we have to do in the circumstances.”
Again‚ Zinnbauer will potentially have at least one enforced change when Pirates meet Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy in the first leg of their Caf Confederation Cup playoff round tie at Botswana National Stadium in Gaborone on Sunday.
Monare’s horrific clash of heads with teammate Ndlovu saw the former limp off groggily in the 36th minute against City and he will be a question mark for Jwaneng.