Josep Zinnbauer wins his first match as Pirates coach

Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates celebrates goal with teammates during Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Black Leopards on 21 December 2019 at Orlando Stadium.
Gabadinho Mhango of Orlando Pirates celebrates goal with teammates during Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Black Leopards on 21 December 2019 at Orlando Stadium.
Image: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates wrapped up a forgettable 2019 with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Black Leopards in what was a debut match for their brand new German coach Josep Zinnbauer at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

Innocent Maela’s 22nd minute opening goal and Gabadinho Mhango’s second half brace was all that the Buccaneers needed to win their fifth league match, giving Zinnbauer a positive welcome to South African football after being appointed to replace stand-in coach Rulani Mokwena two weeks ago. 

Other than the threat posed by nippy striker Lesedi Kapinga, Leopards showed little creativity to really trouble the home side in this match.

It was Kapinga again who created Leopards equalizer by last season top scorer Mwape Musonda on the hour mark before Mhango restored Bucs lead three minutes later.

Mhango followed that up with his sixth goal of the season from the penalty spot after he managed to trick the referee Abongile Tom, who thought the Bucs striker was fouled by Leopards keeper Jonas Mendez inside the area in the 72nd minute.

Television replays showed that the Leopards keeper had nothing to do with Mhango’s fall and his protest after Tom had pointed to the spot fell on deaf ears. It was a harsh way to concede for Leopards, who had come to this with just one point separating them from Bucs.

Maela, Augustine Mulenga, Mhango, Kabelo Dlamini and Vincent Pule all looked to impressed Zinnbauer with their surge forward in search of goals, but in the end it was Maela and Mhango goals that were enough to keep Bucs in the top half of the Absa Premiership table.

Bucs though still have a lot to do in the second half of the season next year as they remain 14 points adrift of the runaway leaders and bitter arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who will have a chance to stretch their lead when they visit Maritzburg United today.

Having failed to go past the first round of the Caf Champions League and knocked out early in the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout, Bucs have had a disastrous start to their 2019-20 campaign, putting pressure Zinnbauer to hit the road running in his first stint on the African continent.

Building consistency and fixing an ageing central defence that has conceded 21 goals in 14 matches will be Zinnbauer’s first priority in the New Year in which nothing less than finishing in a credible place inside the top eight and winning the Nedbank Cup, will be acceptable to Bucs fans.

Zinnbauer showed from the way he was gesturing from the sidelines that he understands the immense challenge he’s facing.

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