Gabadinho Mhango, right, with coach Josef Zinnbauer at yesterday’s monthly PSL awards. Photo: Muzi Ntombela BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Josef Zinnbauer and Gabadinho Mhango are a match made in heaven for Orlando Pirates.

The duo, who have been the cornerstone of the Buccaneers’ resurgence in recent weeks, were rewarded for their exploits when they were crowned the Premiership Coach and Player of the Month for January yesterday at the PSL offices.

Early in December, German coach Zinnbauer took over a listing Sea Robbers’ ship, steering it out of the bottom half of the log to an impressive second spot so far, thanks to six wins and one draw in seven matches.

That was, moreover, a great start for the 49-year-old whose appointment was not met with wild enthusiasm by the fans.

However, Zinnbauer’s offensive approach was welcomed by his players from the outset as they’ve scored a whopping 15 goals, 10 coming from striker Mhango, under his stewardship.

This has shot the Malawi-born striker to the top of the league’s scoring charts with 14 goals, something that has given many of ‘The Ghost’ ample reason to believe that they can still finish in a continental qualifying position at the end of the season.

Zinnabuer, furthermore, believes the Buccaneers would have sealed a spot in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup if Mhango was not suspended during their last 32 penalty shoot-out loss to Bidvest Wits at home last Sunday.

“I don’t know what I can do without him. I think we make all the good sharp turns. Players give him the ball and we have a system where he fits perfectly. I think we have a feeling in the system and he’s made a top performance. I am so happy to have him in the squad,” he said.

“You saw last week in the game (against Wits) and I think that if we had Gaba we’d have 100 percent won the game, but I am not saying the other players are not good. We made a little step. We have the self-confidence and goals now, nd those are the things that we need.”

Mhango burst onto the scene with Bloemfontein Celtic, where he scored 15 goals in 46 appearances before joining Lamontville Golden Arrows on loan and netted five times in 13 outings.

However, despite winning his first league title during the 2016/17 season with Bidvest Wits, where he scored 11 goals in 41 matches, it’s been with the Sea Robbers that he’s really made his mark, scoring 15 goals in just 18 appearances.

“I think the system we have now is the one that I love to play because it lets me be in front of goal and I don’t need to go all the way to the back. I am just around the box now,” Mhango said.

Pirates will be hoping to continue with their rich vein of form when they travel to Venda to face struggling Black Leopards on Sunday (3.30pm kick-off).

@Mihlalibaleka

 

The Star

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