Orlando Pirates’ new coach a true motivator with a clear plan

Is Josef Zinnbauer as good as the cars from his country?

15 December 2019 - 00:00 By BARENG BATHO-KORTJAAS
Josef Zinnbauer is the new coach of Orlando Pirates.
Josef Zinnbauer is the new coach of Orlando Pirates.
Image: Orlando Pirates

The Khozas are keeping up with the Motaungs in all things German.

Last December Kaizer Motaung brought back his soldier Ernst Middendorp. Rumblings of discontent reverberated from Phefeni to Pollsmoor as many were not convinced of the suitability of the German given his uninspiring first spell with Kaizer Chiefs.

This December, on Tuesday to be exact, Irvin Khoza has gone German. This after Rhulani Mokwena, who graduated to head coach following the abrupt departure of Milutin Sredojevic, was returned to his assistant coach position.

That decision was taken in order to accommodate a man of German persuasion, Josef Zinnbauer, as the new head coach of Orlando Pirates.

The contrast between Chiefs and Pirates couldn’t be more stark.

Middendorp has brought back verve and enthusiasm among those aligned with Amakhosi. After 13 rounds of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Chiefs top the table with 34 points from 11 wins, one draw and one loss. Slide down the log and you will find the Sea Robbers stationed on seventh, 17 points behind with four wins, five draws and four defeats.

Chiefs have scored 28 goals, and conceded 10 for a healthy goal difference. Pirates have found the net 19 times and their defence was breached 20 times for a minus-one goal difference.

The gulf is unmistakable. It is heaven and hell. It is against this background that Bucs boss Khoza ended the gnashing of teeth among The Ghost.

“Zinnbauer who?” has been the order of the day since. Some have taken to calling him JZ. Others have given him Zimbabwe as moniker. So can JZ Zimbabwe mould the undoubted individual talent at Pirates into team brilliance?

Pirates are desperate for silverware. What can a club who last won a trophy five years ago (the Nedbank Cup in 2014) gain from a man with no track record of winning cups?

Does a man who boasts a six-and-a-half-month spell coaching Hamburger SV in the Bundesliga as his highest-profile job be the answer to bringing back the bounce in the Bucs’ step?

Mind you, that is a job he assumed in September 2014 and from which he was jettisoned in early March 2015.

Why all these questions? They arise because the last time Khoza pulled a rabbit from a hat, the magic backfired badly.

The rabbit proved to be Kjell Jonevret, a Swede from Stockholm, appointed in February 2017 and who resigned in August of the same year.

“Absolutely,” responded Sven Neuhaus, a former professional goalkeeper in Germany, when asked whether his ex-teammate Zinnbauer is ready to assume the assignment of being at the helm of a massive institution of SA and African football.

Of course he is assertive but he’s very honest
Sven Neuhaus, former teammate of Josef Zinnbauer

“He will have taken his time to think things through and will be fully prepared for the role. I think he’s more than capable of making a big impact at the club. He’s a very smart guy who has all the qualities to succeed in SA.”

Zinnbauer’s philosophy?

“He very much epitomises the football we see week-in, week-out, across the Bundesliga – fast-paced, modern, skilful, possession-based football,” said Neuhaus. “He likes his teams to dominate games, winning the ball back quickly, pressing high up the field and regularly switching the play. In many ways he mirrors the style of top German coaches like Jurgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann.”

As a person “Josef is a really good guy — very pleasant, friendly, approachable but has a true passion for winning. What I like about him most is that he is incredibly ambitious and what reflects well is how refreshingly honest a character he is. In terms of his management style, he hails from the modern era of German football. He employs a very progressive management style through his staff, which is subsequently integrated within his teams.”

As a player, “you could see from his leadership on the pitch that he was going to be a good coach. His ambition and passion to win make him a very inspirational character — a true motivator, always with a clear plan. Despite his drive he always remains humble, which I think is a very important asset for someone in his position. You could really see all of these qualities contributing to a really positive relationship he developed with players.”

Neuhaus said Zinnbauer’s unfamiliarity with African football won’t be a hindrance. “He is very open-minded and is widely travelled. He’s also played and worked with a great number of nationalities and cultures over the years, which will undoubtedly serve him well in this position.

“He has very clear expectations and is great in inspiring teams and individual players. Of course he is assertive, but he’s very honest — which helps build trust and ensures each player knows exactly what’s required from them,” he said.

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