Nobody at Pirates is talking about catching Kaizer Chiefs: Zinnbauer
Orlando Pirates boss Joe Zinnbauer first laughed at the suggestion that his side could still emerge league champions, but then confirmed that the No 1 position was still in their sights - even after drawing with Lamontville Golden Arrows at the weekend.
“We can’t speak about the title,” the German coach insisted after the goalless draw at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday, where Pirates limped to 40 points but remained third in the standings with seven matches to play.
Mathematically, Pirates could still reach 61 points - which is more than the points tally that the champions of the last three seasons amassed - but that would require the Bucs winning all their remaining matches.
“Mamelodi Sundowns have more games than us, Wits have more games than us. Our focus is on the next game and improving the squad for next season,” said Zinnbauer.
“Nobody [at Pirates] is talking about catching Kaizer Chiefs.
“I understand that the media are always asking questions about the title but this is not our focus. Our focus in on the next game.”
But when asked about a target for the end of the season, Zinnbauer said, “If you give me place one, two or three, I’ll take it,” suggesting perhaps that there are still some hopes of an unlikely title success.
“The season is not finished - and then we’ll see,” he added.
Pirates’ slight odds improved on Saturday night, when following Pirates’ dropping of two points, Chiefs ceded three at home to bottom-placed AmaZulu in the shock result of the season.
The new coach has affected an impressive turnaround in fortune for the Buccaneers, with seven wins, two draws and a solitary loss in his 20 games in charge.
But Pirates had it tough against a spirited Arrows on Saturday.
“I see it that we won a point in a game that was not so easy to play. Arrows have a strong team, they fought hard.’ said Zinnbauer.
“We had a few opportunities in the first half to score, but the [heavy] pitch and the wind in the second half made it tough. It was a difficult point won in a difficult game. It was not so easy to play.”
Pirates next meet champions Sundowns on Tuesday March 17.
“We have to focus on the 10 days now before that match. It will be a very tough game against a team with a lot of different systems.”