FILE - Orlando Pirates. Photo: Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
FILE - Orlando Pirates. Photo: Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Josef Zinnbauer is confident Orlando Pirates can advance in Confederations Cup

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

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Orlando Pirates commander-in-chief Josef Zinnbauer remains confident that they’ll be able to reach the quarter-finals of the Confederation Cup after their last group-stage match against Enyimba on Wednesday, despite their recent fortunes.

The Buccaneers are unbeaten in continental football this season after eight matches. They won five, three in the preliminary qualifiers and two in the group stage, and have drawn two, both in the group stage against Ahli Benghazi and ES Setif.

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They lead Group A with nine points, a point ahead of Benghazi.

Enyimba and Setif, who are third and fourth respectively, still have a shot at qualifying for the last eight, but they’ll need to win their remaining matches against the top two on the final match day.

Pirates, though, would reach the quarter-finals for the first time in the competition if they get a draw against Enyimba in Nigeria. However, that’s easier said than done, given that Pirates suffered a humbling draw against Swallows in the league over the weekend.

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That 1-1 scoreline spilled water on Pirates’ ambitions to finish in the top two and subsequently qualify for the Champions League next season. Zinnbauer was disappointed with the result, but not the performance.

“The direction was good. We saw a very good performance today. But I’d have been happier if we had the better results, the three points. We’d have gone forward with a lot of confidence. But the performance gave us (confidence) to the next step,” he said.

Pirates head to west Africa with niggling problems in their squad. They’ll likely have only one senior goalkeeper, Wayne Sandilands, available for selection, after Richard Ofori and Siyabonga Mponstshane sustained injuries in the last few weeks.

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With his back against the wall, Zinnbauer was forced to have young Elson Sithole, 20, who’s campaigning in the reserve league, assume the role of reserve goalkeeper during their 1-1 draw with Swallows on Saturday.

Zinnbauer, though, is aware of the crisis that’s facing his goalkeeping department: “We have to prepare for this (unfortunate incident). But there are some things (testing of match fitness) that we still need to do before the match on Wednesday.”

With the DStv Premiership title looking a bit out of reach for Pirates – with Mamelodi Sundowns in pole position, eight points ahead and with two games in hand – Pirates will fancy their chances of winning a double this season through the continental showpiece (they already have the MTN8 trophy in their cabinet). Zinnbauer, though, is not giving up on qualifying for the Champions League next season, although he stresses that won’t be easy in the last seven games, given that all the teams are chasing points.

“We look at game-to-game, always. It was a good game for us. I think we deserved the three points. But we won’t speak about it, the title or the Champions League spot. It’s still a long way to go, but we still need points for these targets,” he said.

@MihlaliBaleka

IOL Sport

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