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Zinnbauer sweating on Mhango’s fitness for Pirates’ big semifinal derby against Chiefs

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer and Malawian striker Gabadinho Mhango speak to the media during the club's media day on January 13 2020.
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer and Malawian striker Gabadinho Mhango speak to the media during the club's media day on January 13 2020.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

With Orlando Pirates struggling to score goals coach Josef Zinnbauer is weating on the availability of star striker Gabadinho Mhango for his team’s big Soweto derby MTN8 semi-final first leg against Kaizer Chiefs at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.

Pirates have scored three goals in three matches this season in a 1-0 win over Cape Town City in the cup quarterfinals before 1-1 draws in the two DStv Premiership matches against AmaZulu and Stellenbosch FC.

Mhango finished as Bucs and the league’s joint top scorer with 16 goals last season and there were fears of Bucs becoming more blunt up-front when the Malawian was replaced by Zakhele Lepasa at half-time against Stellenbosch on Wednesday night with a suspected groin injury.

Zinnbauer was not sure this week whether Mhango‚ who has scored one of Bucs’ three goals this season‚ will feature in the Soweto derby on Saturday.

“It’s a good question‚ they [Bucs’ medical staff] have worked on it [the injury] and he had a scan‚” the coach said‚ asked about Mhango’s avilability.

“But I’ve come directly from the training field and I cannot answer this question.

“I will speak with my medicals and then I can get the information. I’m so sorry about this.

“I hope he recovers but it was not looking so good after the game – but I now hope it’s better and we’ll have a chance to use him.”

Zinnbauer agreed that not having Mhango on Saturday may come as a big blow for his side‚ but insisted he has enough firepower in his other stars to find the goals.

“Mhango is a top striker and it’s always bad when you lose your top striker‚” Pirates’ coach admitted.

“But we have other team players who can also score goals. If you watched [against Stellenbosch]‚ we had chances to score when Lepasa came on and Terrence [Dzvukamanja] came in‚ and [Vincent] Pule had chances.

“We have players who can score and I hope we’ll have ‘Gabba’ [Mhango]. But we have other players and they can score.”

Zinnbauer acknowledges that defensively Pirates have been better since he joined the team in December‚ but their scoring rate has been woeful with the team relying heavily on Mhango to find the goals.

“We have to find more in the final third. In the first league game [against AmaZulu] there was a problem in getting and creating chances in the final third.

“But you saw that in the second half we came more and more in the final third but then you need luck.

“It’s possible we can score easily‚ but then you need luck. It was centimetres that Lepasa failed to put the ball over the line. And this is what you need in game when you’ve struggled in the first half.

“But I have no fear. I know and I trust the players. I believe in my players. We have a lot of new players and we have to work a little on the conditioning of these new players and on the structure of what we want in the game.

“I know it’s coming and I think we have a good quality in the squad because as a coach I have now worked with the players.

“I hope we can improve the players quickly.”