JOHANNESBURG – Coach Josef Zinnbauer understands the frustration from some Orlando Pirates supporters who have lamented the team’s inconsistent form in the last few months, but he says they’ll fight until the end to qualify for continental football next season.
After a bright start to their campaign, which included winning the MTN8 cup, Pirates have found the going tough in the last few months. They are out of the title race as they trail leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by 14 points after 26 games.
Last weekend they saw their Confederation Cup journey come to an abrupt end as they were hammered 5-1 on aggregate by Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca in the quarter-finals. That defeat leaves them with only a top three finish to play for this season.
In the last few weeks, the Bucs faithful were reported to be considering staging a protest after the club’s poor outings, with some also calling for Zinnbauer’s head. The German tactician said he understands the supporters’ reaction after their poor results.
“Some of the supporters are upset after the games that you lose. It’s normal, I can understand the supporters. But on the other side you have supporters who can give you the support,” said Zinnbauer on the sidelines of the launch of this year’s Carling Black Label Cup yesterday.
“Don’t forget we won a title this season. We went through to the qualifying games of the Confederation Cup. We went through the group stage and went through to the quarter-final. But there’ll always be some negatives. But some players lacked experience.”
Pirates must win their last four matches to qualify for continental football next season. One of those four games will be tomorrow (5pm kick-off) when they clash with second-placed AmaZulu at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto.
The Carling Black Label Cup will be on July 31 where Pirates will clash with arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs. If he stays for next season, this will be Zinnbauer’s first match in the Carling Black Label Cup, although he won’t be fully in charge as they’ll have a “Champion Coach”.
The supporters will also select the starting line-up, with the Champion Coach, who is also a fan, set to sit in the dugout with Zinnbauer. The German is excited for his first Carling Black Label Cup, especially with the prospect of working with a fan on the day.
“It will be interesting to see what they do. You get a feeling of what the supporters want, and as a coach to see what they are thinking. After a successful day, you get to exchange good words and after a bad day, you get bad words but that’s normal,” Zinnbauer said.