Cometh the hour. This is Zinnbauer’s moment to prove a point
JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer is on the brink of making his doubters eat humble pie after his appointment as the new commander in chief was met with bemusement.
It’s been a year and two days since Zinnbauer was unveiled as the Pirates coach. But few in the football fraternity expected him to still be calling the shots, considering his unconvincing track record in his previous jobs.
But the 50-year-old German has brought a new breath of life to the club, such that when he recently flew to Germany to attend a family emergency, many Pirates supporters crossed their fingers, hoping it was not a one way ticket out of OR Tambo International Airport.
It was not that “the Ghost” were against him attending to the matter of his son, Fabio, who was in a coma. But it was what he had recently done that left them in awe. Zinnbauer’s team had, hours earlier, delivered one of the performances of the season.
The Sea Robbers mopped the floor with nemesis Kaizer Chiefs, beating them 3-0 in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-finals at home. To the club's delight and those who had warmed up to him, the German returned for the second leg to finish off the tie with a 2-0 win at FNB Stadium.
In his strides to prove to all that he was the right man for the job from the outset, despite the football fraternity labelling his appointment as a ‘ticking bomb’, Zinnbauer will be out to guide his team to the Wafa Wafa competition crown this evening.
He's wearing the favourites’ cap as his troops will square off against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Moses Mabhida Stadium (6pm kick-off). Celtic are in their second successive final in three months but Pirates are unbeaten in their last nine matches.
Included in that streak is the 1-0 win over Celtic in the DStv Premiership this season. There were several draws since he took charge, especially during the resumption and conclusion of the previous season in the bio-bubble, where they failed to score. But the Pirates strikers appear to have found their scoring boots after playing out scoring draws this season.
Pirates' challenge in some of those matches was that they had to come from behind to snatch a point. But knockout matches are about scoring goals.
Zinnbauer’s attacking style has rubbed off onto his newbies – Deon Hotto, Thabang Monare and Terrence Dzvukamanja have been integral for the team going forward. Defender Thulani Hlatshwayo is the co-captain and a cog of the team’s defence.
The spirit of resurgence has also been consumed by some players
who were on the fringes – Zakhele Lepasa rose to the occasion when he replaced last season’s top goal scorer Gabadinho Mhango who was injured.
Tshegofatso Mabasa also returned from injury with two successive decisive goals for the team in stoppage time. Zinnbauer has shown fatherly qualities too, backing new goalkeeper Richard Ofori after his blunder against Baroka.
Winning the MTN8 cup tonight will give Zinnbauer ample reason to believe that he can throw an egg into the faces of those who doubted his credentials.