Josef Zinnbauer very happy with Thembinkosi Lorch
CAPE TOWN - Prior to Mamelodi Sundowns winning the Caf Champions League a few seasons back, the pride of South African football on the continent had always been Orlando Pirates.
This was, of course, due to the Buccaneers being the first SA team to conquer Africa back in 1995.
For years "the star" on the Pirates jersey was not only a sign of success, but also determination, courage and ability to defy the odds of inferior facilities, dodgy refereeing and even intimidation tactics on away trips in Africa.
Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer certainly understands the rigours of competing in Africa now after his team earned a hard-fought 1-0 away victory over Angola's Sagrada Esperanca courtesy of a Thembinkosi Lorch strike on Tuesday.
“It was a tough game for us, the weather was very hot and the field was not so good – there was long grass and a bouncy field, a little bit difficult to play the ball,” Zinnbauer said.
It was not only the conditions, but also the style of football the Angolans played that troubled Pirates. Zinnbauer's charges enjoy roaming the field to create opportunities for their teammates, but Sagrada Esperanca didn't allow this.
"From minute to minute, we became better in the game against a very strong defensive team with man-marking systems, so it was not so easy for our players," he said.
“We have special players on the field that want more space and they went one against one, but when you always have an opponent on your back then it's not so easy.”
Pirates are certainly playing like a team filled with confidence. Not only have they already broken their trophy drought by winning the MTN8 this season, but they are also on a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
It certainly seems they are team that never knows when they're beaten and it was the same in Angola, with Lorch finding the winner in the 75th minute.
Zinnbauer certainly had high praise for the Bafana Bafana marksman.
"This was a team effort today, and congratulations to Lorch, who scored a top goal.
“The away goal was important for us and we didn't concede, which is also important for us. They did a good job today, it turned out very well, especially the result," Zinnbauer said.
Pirates now shift their attention to domestic action where they face league champions Sundowns on 2 January. They then play the return leg at home against Sagrada Esperanca on 6 January.
"We have to turn our focus to Sundowns after Christmas and between Sundowns and Swallows is the second leg and I hope we do very well like we did today,” Zinnbauer said.