Josef Zinnbauer eyes perfect Orlando Pirates anniversary gift
JOHANNESBURG - A double dose of delight awaits for Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer if he delivers the MTN8 title as he will end the club's trophy drought and add the perfect icing to his one-year anniversary.
Today marks exactly a year since Zinnbauer was announced as Pirates coach. His appointment was greeted with bemusement, though, considering his underwhelming track record in his native Germany and Switzerland.
But the 50-year-old coach was quick to turn his detractors into admirers - with his attacking style of football - as his team went on to enjoy a nine-game unbeaten run in the PSL when he arrived.
That run didn't only rescue the team from the doldrums of the bottom half of the Premiership standings, but made them believe they could pull off a come-frombehind push for the title. They went on to finish the season in third and qualified for continental football.
“I have had a good experience if I think about the past,” said Zinnbauer. “We finished in third position and we had the chance to go to Caf. This was a target that was not there during my start because all the guys said this season (we will do well).”
Pirates' journey in Africa is well documented, having won the Champions League in 1995. But their recent fall from grace which has seen them go six seasons without a domestic trophy has left a bitter taste in the mouth of “the Ghost”.
In his first full season with the Buccaneers, Zinnbauer is on the verge of winning the club's first trophy since 2014.
“When you speak of the MTN8, I don't know when the last time the team was in the final, six or seven years ago. But now in my first full season, we had a chance to go to the final. And now we have to do all that we can to win this final but the opponent wants the same,” Zinnbauer said.
Pirates' opponent in the MTN8 final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday will be Bloemfontein Celtic. Despite their well-documented problems off the field, Celtic will be playing in the second Cup final in three months.
In September, they lost to Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final. But since then, they've grown from leaps and bounds, having won in the first stage of the Confederation Cup preliminary round, despite being first-time participants.
The two teams head to the final having had contrasting outings in their league campaigns.
Pirates are fourth and undefeated after six matches, while Celtic are languishing in the bottom half of the log. But Zinnbauer has remained cautious of his team's chances.
“It's important that we prepare the team in the exact way. And then it will be a good time for me to win the title.
“Now we have the opportunity to win the title,” Zinnbauer said.