Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has hinted that Bucs’ latest prodigy, Azola Tshobeni could get his first taste of Soweto derby action this weekend.
The youngster, who was promoted to the Pirates first team last year, has belied his young age with two solid performances for the Buccaneers against Maritzburg United and Baroka FC respectively.
The 18-year-old has won over the confidence of his coach, who has heaped high praise on the Pirates development product, this following his bright start to life in the top flight.
“He came to the training sessions and he gave some good performances,” Zinnbauer told the media in the Soweto derby press conference.
“I always explain that players give me a signal at training then you get a chance and he did this very well. He worked on the system and he worked on his conditioning and for me, he had a very good game against Maritzburg and he did not have a bad game in the last game, but it was a different game, very difficult, they (Baroka) are a man-marking team and we had to change the structure that is why Azola came off. But he did not have a bad game,” he explained.
When asked if Tshobeni would feature in this weekend’s Soweto derby, the German revealed that he was undecided on whether to throw the youngster in the deep end or to usher him into such a big game in moderation.
“Now we have to work with him and there’s a big game. It’s always a question for a coach. In a normal game, you can only lose, if you bring him in and he has a bad game then they say “why do you play with a young player” in a special game. Or, if you leave him out and you have a bad game then people say, “why don’t you play the young player?” so there’s always a reason.
“It’s always 50/50 decision for a coach. But we trust him and we believe in the young players like (Bongani) Sam also so we have to assess over the next two days whether players are available if they are in the right condition or if they are mentally fit which is also important in this time. But I hope we find the best solution for us and we have to see. But for any player to improve he needs time and now we have to decide if he will rest or play. There’s always a question mark but we’ll get the answer after the game,” Zinnbauer explained.
The match will kick off at 15:30 at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.