Nurkovic's return worries Bucs coach

JZ remains firm amid disquiet over his regime

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

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer remains unshaken by calls from a section of the club fans for him to be shown the door amid the side’s hot and cold form.

Zinnbauer couldn’t have asked for a more perfect game to turn his doubters into believers than tomorrow’s Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs at Orlando Stadium (3.30pm).

In recent weeks, the Buccaneers' followers have appeared to be divided over Zinnbauer's tenure, with some saying the German isn’t tactically astute, hence he must be fired.

Others feel Zinnbauer must be given a chance to at least finish the season, especially after wining the MTN8, the campaign’s first piece of silverware that ended their six-year cup drought.

Yesterday, during a virtual media conference to preview the Soweto derby, Sowetan asked Zinnbauer what he makes of the suggestions from some fans that he must be sacked.

“One guy [a fan] said ‘hey, you’re a good coach, you won the title [the MTN8] ... In the last six years we didn’t win anything’. I understand the supporters, they’re always different. I understand when the fans are upset after we draw or lose,’’ said Zinnbauer.

“The fans always want three points. A club like Pirates needs success, but we have to work on it. The season is long.’’

Zinnbauer has already beaten Chiefs twice this season after outwitting them in the two-legged MTN8 semifinal, winning 3-0 in the first leg and 2-0 in the second one.

The Bucs coach warned his players against reading too much into the previous two derbies. The return of Chiefs striker Samir Nurkovic, who was injured in two previous meetings, looks to be worrying Zinnbauer.

“The players know what’s happening with Chiefs. Yes, they had a bad start but now they’re coming closer to us; they get more points. Nurkovic is back ... he gives them advantage. It’s a fight,’’ said the Pirates coach.

Left-back Bongani Sam and 18-year-old midfielder Azola Tsobeni are likely to make their Soweto derby debuts. The pair started Pirates’ last two games against Maritzburg United and TS Galaxy. Sam’s chances are further enhanced by the unavailability of Innocent Maela, who is suspended.

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