Orlando Pirates coach Zinnbauer defends selection policy, frets over Monare fitness


The German has recently come under fire for struggling to field a consistent squad in recent weeks

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has responded to criticism that tinkering to his starting line-up in almost every match is compromising consistent performances.

The criticism increased when the Buccaneers lost to Golden Arrows last week after the coach made some key changes to the team that had beaten Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby three days earlier.

The changes included benching vice-captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ben Motshwari, who has been one of the team’s standout performers this season.

In their last game on Tuesday, when they beat Cape Town City 2-0 in a league match, Zinnbauer dropped Frank Mhango, Innocent Maela and Thabiso Sesane from the team that started in the Nedbank Cup against Uthongathi at the weekend.

The coach has admitted that it is difficult to start a similar team consistently due to injuries and crammed fixtures.

“It’s not always easy, after the games you have some [injury] problems. Last week it was Pule and before that it was [Paseka] Mako,” Zinnbauer told the media.

“You always have problems with injuries. Most players have problems, the muscles like [Bongani] Sam last week. It’s also a problem that we have a lot of games and we always have to manage them within a short time.

“We have a game on Sunday and we have a little bit of time for recovery. That was also the reason why we didn’t change a lot of players for today’s match so that our chances become good. But we need the conditioning for the next game.”

While Pirates fans have been criticising Zinnbauer for constant squad changes, most PSL teams are faced with the same predicament, including Mamelodi Sundowns whose coaches recently came out crying because of a hugely depleted selection pool after being badly hit by injuries and illnesses.

Ahead of the visit to Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy for Sunday’s Caf Confederation Cup, Pirates are now faced with another injury concern in Thabang Monare.

The midfielder lasted just 36 minutes in the win over Cape Town City and will have to be assessed if he can make the Botswana trip.

“I don’t know what happened and tomorrow [Wednesday] we will see if Monare comes out. I hope it’s not difficult for him. I saw him after the game and I think it’s good,” said Zinnbauer.

“But it is small things that we have to work on when a player is out. Then you have another chance you can play another when one player says ‘I am tired or I pulled my muscle a little bit.’ You have to protect them.”

Zinnbauer also said injuries are forcing him to deploy some players out of position.

“I know there are supporters who are saying why is the coach always changing his team or why is he not fielding players in the right position?,” Zinnbauer continued.

“Like today we played Ndlovu as a right-back because the other fullbacks are out. Three full-backs all injured. Those are the things you have to manage as a coach so I understand the supporters, it’s not easy.

“Now we have played 10 or 11 games in 30 days and it’s a lot for players. But you have to find a new structure like [Deon] Hotto today he played as a number nine yet he is not a nine you know this, there is no other nine. These are the things a player has to understand to help us playing different positions.”

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