Last season scorer and new signing have fitness issues

Why Zinnbauer did not call on Mhango, Makusu

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has reasoned his strikers Gabadinho Mhango and Jean-Marc Makusu are not up to speed, hence they have hardly started games in the absence of injured fellow centre-forwards Zakhele Lepasa and Tshegofatso Mabasa. 

Before sustaining almost similar groin injuries that have kept both of them out to date against Chippa United last December, Lepasa and Mabasa started the campaign top of Bucs’ striking pecking order.

You’d expect Mhango, last season’s joint top-scorer, and highly rated Congolese striker Makusu to be natural replacements for Lepasa and Mabasa in the starting XI, instead of natural wingers Thembinkosi Lorch or Terrence Dzvukamanja.

Since losing Lepasa and Mabasa to injuries, Pirates have played five league games. In those five outings Dzvukamanja has started as a striker in all, bar one. In this period, Makusu has never started even a single match, while Mhango boasts two starts.

Overlooking Mhango and Makusu for Dzvukamanja and Lorch at times has seen some question Zinnbauer’s tactical acumen in a season where many expect the Soweto club to go all out to challenge for the league title.

The German has since explained why he’s been resorting to Lorch and Dzvukamanja to spearhead his attack ahead of either Mhango or Makusu, disclosing his natural centre-forwards are struggling with fitness.

“It’s the conditioning…remember Gaba [Mhango] was out and then he played two games in a raw, playing ninety minutes. He was injured in the muscle and it’s not possible to start players who had such problem a few weeks ago. Normally you give him a break, but we need goals, that’s why we bring him in,’’ stated Zinnbauer.

“Mundele [Makusu] has not been here [in SA] for long.  He needs information in terms of tactics and conditioning. Before he came here he was out for a while. We need to manage these situations well.’’

On the back of a 2-0 defeat to Black Leopards away last Sunday and a home goalless draw versus Golden Arrows on Wednesday, Pirates are eager to bounce back when they face Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow (5pm).

“My focus is on Saturday [tomorrow]. We can’t dwell on the past. One win now will change our fortunes. The points are definitely coming,’’ noted Zinnbauer.

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