Coach says other recruits either not fully fit or carrying injuries
Only Tyson fit to make Bucs debut against City
Heading into their MTN8 quarterfinal clash against Cape Town City at Orlando Stadium on Saturday (6pm), Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has hinted that, out of all the new players, only Thulani Hlatshwayo is ready to make his debut, bemoaning lack of fitness and injuries to other new recruits.
Bolstering an already balanced squad, Pirates have signed more than five players. Bafana Bafana skipper Hlatshwayo, Deon Hotto and Thabang Monare, who joined yesterday, are among the top players headlining the list of newcomers.
“We have new signings like Tyson [Hlatshwayo], he’s 100% [fit], he can play 90 minutes, but others have to work on conditioning,’’ said Zinnbauer in a virtual media conference yesterday.
“The signings and what we’re doing in this moment is very good for me, but I explained this before... it’s not so easy to work with a player who’s not 100% in terms of conditioning. These players need a little more time."
The 50-year-old German coach also warned Monare, 31, that only hard work will see him win a slot in the team that already have more than four players such as Fortune Makaringe, Nkanyiso Zungu, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Ben Motshwari in his midfield position.
“He [Monare] is a good signing but same problem, he has more than five weeks not training with a team, he trained alone, yes, but he now needs conditioning,’’ said Zinnbauer of Monare, who has penned a two-year deal.
“He has a lot of experience, he will help us maybe in Africa [in the CAF Confederation Cup] and maybe in all the games. We have lot of good players in the squad; he must fight for his position in the squad and in the (starting) XI.’’
Mind games perhaps, but Zinnbauer thinks Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs have better chances of winning the league title than the Buccaneers this season.
“Sundowns won the treble last season. OK, they lost a trainer [referring to coach Pitso Mosimane, who joined Egyptian giants Al Ahly], but I think he did a good job,’’ said Zinnbauer. “The club won three titles last season, so that’s normal, they’re favourites…we can’t say now Sundowns are not favourites ... they have 40, 50 players with top qualities.’’
Zinnbauer couldn’t give a substantial reasoning why Chiefs, who boast new technical team and can’t even strengthen their squad, awaiting the outcome of their transfer ban appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, have better chances than Pirates to win the league.
“Chiefs were second last season; they were on top for a very long time until the last game, so it’s normal that they’re favourites. We have a chance but we’re behind them,’’ noted Zinnbauer.
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