Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says many in his impressive list of new signings for the 2020-21 season need to be brought to speed in conditioning before they can play 90 minutes.
He suggested Bafana Bafana captain and centreback Thulani Hlatshwayo might start in Saturday night’s MTN8 quarterfinal kickoff at Orlando Stadium‚ but other signings might be brought along more steadily.
Zinnbauer’s record since arriving in December and hitting the ground running in the Premiership was near impeccable‚ winning 10‚ drawing four and losing just two out of 17 matches to steer Pirates from seventh to a worthy third-placed finish.
That was achieved without too much pressure in a season largely written off for the Bucs in terms of silverware. The dynamic will change in 2020-21‚ though. Zinnbauer also correctly points out he has still not had a real preseason at Pirates.
“This is a short preseason — it’s close to three weeks. And this is not enough for a normal preseason‚” Zinnbauer said.
“But we have all the same rules‚ all the clubs had the same time‚ plus-minus one or two days‚ maybe‚ or a week.”
The impressive string of signings — including their four class players plundered from the now-defunct stable of Bidvest Wits in Hlatshwayo‚ midfielder Thabang Monare‚ and forwards Terrence Dzvukamanja and Deon Hotto — will raise expectations for Zinnbauer to perform.
He cautioned not all the new players are ready to gallop out of the starter gate.
“The signings were very good‚ for me‚ but‚ I explained this before‚ it’s not so easy — you cannot work with a player who is not yet 100% in terms of conditioning‚” Zinnbauer said.
“These players need a bit more time. We started last week with the friendly games‚ preparing the ball strategies‚ the systems in the game.
“I have a feeling they are not yet 100% and that is normal. But we are working with the players and I think in one‚ two weeks‚ it’s up to each player‚ but they will come to 100%. And then we can work on the field with the player for 90 minutes.
“That’s the target for the new signings. But we also have new signings like ‘Tyson’ [Hlatshwayo] — he is 100%‚ I think. He can play 90 minutes.
“But other players have a bit to make up to 90 minutes. Maybe Wayde [Jooste] is on the right direction. He’s so close to 90 minutes. But the others have to work on the conditioning.”
City‚ under Jan Olde Riekerink‚ also ended 2019-20 strong. Having been placed just above relegation when the Dutchman arrived to replace Benni McCarthy in November‚ they finished in sixth place by the September conclusion of the Covid-19-affected season.
MTN8 quarterfinals —
- Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila v SuperSport United (Thohoyandou Stadium‚ 3pm)
- Orlando Pirates v Cape Town City (Orlando Stadium‚ 6pm)
- Kaizer Chiefs v Maritzburg United (FNB Stadium‚ 3pm)
- Mamelodi Sundowns v Bloemfontein Celtic (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 6pm)