Josef Zinnbauer is the new coach of Orlando Pirates.  Photo: @OrlandoPirates via Twitter
Josef Zinnbauer is the new coach of Orlando Pirates. Photo: @OrlandoPirates via Twitter

‘Josef who?’ ask Pirates fans

By Bonginkosi Ndadane Time of article published Dec 11, 2019

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The setting was different, but the reaction was the same when Orlando Pirates announced their coach midway through the season like they did with Kjell Jonevret in February of 2017.

Two years ago, a bemused room full of journalists asked themselves, “Kjell Jonevret who?” when club chairman Irvin Khoza announced the Swedish coach at Rand Stadium.

That’s not entirely true, though; those hacks first struggled with how to spell the name, which led to Jonevret being called “Shell”.

But unlike the garage, there was no fuel that Jonevret poured into the Pirates ship that was running on empty after being annihilated 6-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns.

It was a disastrous appointment that led to Jonevret resigning in August. The Swede was out of his depth and he was terribly exposed.

Fast forward to yesterday and the reaction was, “Josef Zinnbauer who?” when the Sea Robbers announced the German as head coach on a three-season contract.

But since this was done on social media, at least journalists and fans could spell his name in their questions of who is this guy entrusted with leading the Buccaneers away from the troubled waters they are stuck in.

Zinnbauer officially replaces Micho Sredojevic, but unofficially his appointment is an indictment on coach Rhulani Mokwena, who was given the job in the interim.

When Mokwena was hired to be Sredojevic’s assistant, his appointment was made with an eye on the future as the guy who would replace the Serbian. He was given an audition and he didn’t cover himself in glory, which has seen him relegated back to the role of assistant.

“It is important that we thank Rhulani for the fearless manner in which he stepped up to the plate when the need arose,” Khoza said in a statement.

“One of the important lessons leaders learn at the top is about themselves. They are called ‘knowing what I know now’ lessons. I have no doubt that Rhulani has learnt a lot of those for his betterment and that of the team.”

Mokwena will continue leading the side until Zinnbauer gets his work permit.

Mokwena didn’t fail in the truest sense of the word. He showed his tactical acumen as a bright coach for the future, but ultimately he was let down by the club’s signing policy of buying more of what they have (central midfielders) than investing in what they needed (quality central defenders).

This made his job harder, especially starting on a shaky note like Sredojevic. But Sredojevic was backed, which allowed him to lead the team to two back-to-back second place league finishes.

Zinnbauer, whose list of accomplishments isn’t anything to write home about, has a tough act of not only bettering Sredojevic’s record but also doing better than the last “unknown” who managed the Sea Robbers.

“I welcome the opportunity to lead one of the prestigious clubs on the African continent. I hope under my lead, we are able to return the club to its winning ways,” Zinnbauer said.

Pirates’ next assignment is a home clash with Black Leopards on December 21.

Bonginkosi Ndadane

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