Soccer

Carling Black Label Cup: Orlando Pirates confirm four players out of Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs

Injury concerns affected the Buccaneers last season and the problem has arisen again ahead of the new season

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has confirmed that four of his players will be out of the Carling Black Label Cup tie against Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday. 

The match at Orlando Stadium will see captain Happy Jele, Tshegofatso Mabasa, Zakhele Lepasa and Zimbabwean attacker Terrence Dzvukamanja ruled out.

Zinnbauer describes the injuries as “disruptive” as he has to adjust his squad with derby bragging rights at stake.

“It’s a big thing as a coach that you have more weeks now. Important as well is that you have players on the pitch,” said Zinnbauer as per Sowetan Live.

“This time we don’t have so many injuries like last season. Okay‚ right now we have four or five players out‚ like [Tshegofatso] Mabasa‚ [Zakhele] Lepasa‚ Happy [Jele]‚ [Terrence] Dzvukamanja and Vincent Pule. That’s a little bit disruptive but it’s much better than last season.”

While Zinnbauer appears to be wearing a brave face amid the injury concerns, he cannot be pleased that injury problems are here again before his team has even kicked a ball. 

All the players ruled out of Sunday’s clash spent some considerable amount of time injured last season.

Injuries to Mabasa, Lepasa and Dzvukamanja gave Zinnbauer a headache by limiting the coach’s attacking options.

That saw the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch and Deon Hotto being fielded as central strikers while Jele’s absence led to a crisis at the back.

Zinnbauer was, however, keen to focus on the extra time they have to prepare for this season compared to last.

“We now have close to five weeks’ preparation, last season it was two,” Zinnbauer said.

“We can work on private talks – like now we have team team-building sessions alone with the players‚ without coaches and with coaches. 

“And that’s the next thing we can improve – how we can integrate the new signings in the team quickly.  “It’s not everything – we also have to work hard. It’s a bit of a different style than what we had last season and I’m really happy at how the team is working hard on that.

“We have more time now. But you need players available. But we have a good squad now. Yes, last season we were happy – the last six years we didn’t have a cup and we won a cup.”

Pirates won last season’s MTN8 which was the German’s first and only silverware attained while in charge of the Soweto giants.

“We want to win all the cups. Especially for clubs like Pirates, Chiefs or Sundowns. We saw in the last few years that it’s not so easy. Last season we saw AmaZulu [finish second in the league],” said Zinnbauer. 

“But it’s possible. Now we have a chance. Last season we had players who had not played a game in a continental competition, like Caf. And now we have more experience.  We have players who have adapted more to the system. As a coach, I’m the same – I have adapted more to the culture now.”

Pirates have been training in Rustenburg where they set up a pre-season base camp. 

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