When he first took charge of Orlando Pirates nine months ago, Josef Zinnbauer managed to turn things around for the club, however, since the restart of football in the Premier Soccer League, things have not gone according to plan for the Buccaneers.
Pirates are now winless in their last five matches following their one 1-1 draw to relegation-threatened Baroka FC on Tuesday evening.
Their latest spate of results is a far cry from the winning spree enjoyed by the Soweto giants in December last year, which saw them rack up seven wins and two draws when Zinnbauer first took charge.
Since the Absa Premiership returned in August, following a five-month COVID-19 enforced layoff, Pirates have picked up only three points from a possible nine, and sit in third place behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, having played two more games than their archrivals.
In their defence, the Buccaneers have not had any kind fixtures to deal with since the restart. The likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits were always going to be tough encounters, but it was the one against Baroka where fans were banking on a win.
Zinnbauer’s woes have been compounded by the misfiring Gabadinho Mhango. While he still leads the Absa Premiership goalscoring charts with 14 goals, the Malawian has now drawn a blank in his last six outings, allowing the likes of Peter Shalulile and Samir Nurkovic to narrow the gap to just one goal. The 49-year-old mentor admitted that he is unsure whether to rest ‘Gaba’ or allow him to play his way back to form.
In addition, Thembinkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga, two stars who could potentially be game changers for the Buccaneers, were suspended by the club for breaking lockdown regulations. While Lorch has been reinstated to the bio-bubble after pleading guilty to charges lodged against him by the club, the want-away Shonga remains suspended.
One glimmer of hope for Zinnbauer though is forward Tshegofatso Mabasa, who proved he can still deliver when called upon. Despite limited game-time under the German, Mabasa showed his class with a first-time strike to open the scoring against Baroka on Tuesday.
Mabasa was in scintillating form for the Buccaneers before Zinnbauer took over at the club and could well prove pivotal in the last six games of the season.
With their title aspirations slowly fading away, Pirates face another tough encounter on Sunday when they take on a Cape Town City side, who they have not beaten since 2017. The Citizens dislodged reigning champions, Sundowns 3-2 on Monday to rack up their second win in their second match since the restart.
Could the Buccaneers bounce back from their temporary slump, or is the wheels coming off for the men from Orlando? Let us know in the comments.
Overseas-based ex-Chiefs star in this strong PSL XI