Orlando Pirates are scoring for fun for Zinnbauer
While the general narrative is that January is one of the most gruelling months in the top-flight due to congested schedules Pirates have handled their business with distinction.
They got off to a blistering start as they are enjoying a four-match unbeaten run, matched only by Maritzburg United in 2020.
Much of Pirates’ new-found resurgence, though, has come under Josef Zinnbauer, who’s guided his team to 10 points out of 12.
The German-born coach’s immediate impact at Pirates has the transforming of the strikers. And Gabadinho Mhango appears to have found his scoring boots at the club following an underwhelming start of four goals in 11 appearances.
In the last five matches, Mhango has scored eight times and leads the league’s scoring charts.
However, the Malawian international wouldn’t have achieved that feat hadn’t it been for his teammates such as fellow attacker Luvuyo Memela, who’s provided him with three assists in the last five outings.
“I think we are combining (well) as a team. When you have the quality of Mhango, (Thembinkosi) Lorch, and (Vincent) Pule, especially us (the senior guys), we are used to each other, it’s easy to play with the player like Mhango,” Memela said.
“We know that he (Mhango) likes to go to the left side, and cut in right, where he knows he’s got a good right foot. So, the only thing that I need to do is look for him. And he knows that when I get the ball in space, I’ll try and turn. And then he’ll have to make a run and see if I’ll find him.”
Mhango arrived at Pirates in July following a lucrative move from Bidvest Wits. However, he failed to hit the ground running, but it appears that Mhango’s first few months of the season where about adaptation to the new surroundings and teammates - hence he’s reaping the fruits of his labour under Zinnbauer.
“It’s been good, and it’s all starts at training. We’ve been together now for about six-seventh months, so we have to understand each other. So, I think (now that we’ve been linking up well), it’s been a matter of understanding each other,” Memela explained.
While the Sea Robbers have been flourishing up front, they’ve also shown immense improvement defensively, conceding only four goals in the last five matches.
The German, however, still has to work on his team's mental and physical endurance, as they tend to become too complacent in the second stanza.