How Orlando Pirates got their mojo back

Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele. /Darren Stewart/ Gallo Images
Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele. /Darren Stewart/ Gallo Images

How have Orlando Pirates gotten their mojo back in such a short space of time? As the Buccaneers head into Saturday's Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs (at FNB Stadium, 3.30pm), they are a different team.

The last time Pirates played the derby in November, they had a defensive capitulation and ended up losing 2-3 to their bitter rivals.

Who can forget that defensive meltdown from Bucs as Ntsikelelo Nyauza headed the ball into his own net in the opening minute?

Later, with the score at 2-2, Paseka Mako conceded a penalty - which was converted by Daniel Cardoso - in the dying minutes of the game to hand Chiefs their first bragging rights since 2014.

Pirates skipper Happy Jele, who missed the November match due to suspension, said the team has come a long way since three months ago.

"Our analysts have been working hard to analyse Chiefs and check their weak points and strengths. We just have to watch out for those points and see which one to exploit on the day," said Jele.

"It's about playing the game and not playing the occasion. Tactics play a big role in the derby. We will know what to do on the day and it will be easy. We lost the previous derby against them and we want to do better."

Bucs have indeed improved massively under coach Josef Zinnbauer in the eight league games he has been in charge.

Pirates have since scored 16 goals under the German, and have also been good on the defensive end with only five goals conceded and three clean sheets.

Bucs assistant coach Fadlu Davids explained how Zinnbauer got back the team's mojo in defence.

"It goes down to the coach who has developed this unit thinking that we have to defend from the front with 11 players. That has been the mentality shift regardless of who is playing, the players have a clear instruction with regard to their tasks," he said.

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