Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer. Picture: PHILIP MAETA/GALLO IMAGES
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer. Picture: PHILIP MAETA/GALLO IMAGES

Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo‚ one of Orlando Pirates new signings for the 2020-2021 season‚ is impressed at how his new coach Josef Zinnbauer has been trying to learn isiZulu.  

Centreback Hlatshwayo and forwards Deon Hotto and Terence Dzvukumanja are three signings, forming part of the redistribution of wealth among SA’s big clubs after the sale of Bidvest Wits, who have arrived to bolster Zinnbauer’s team.

Hlatshwayo said he was impressed by the German’s attacking football from afar as Zinnbauer arrived in December to guide seventh-positioned Bucs to a creditable third-place finish. The Bafana captain said Zinnbauer is also a nice guy.

“He’s a coach I’ve known from a distance playing against Orlando Pirates. And now we’ve met‚ we’ve done the one-v-ones, he’s a good coach‚ he’s chilled‚” the defender said.

“From a distance you’d say he was a tough coach like Gavin [Hunt‚ the former Wits‚ now Kaizer Chiefs coach]. But he’s not — he’s quiet ... he talks. He wants to hear how you’re feeling and everything.

“I’m about to finish my first week now at training with Pirates and what I’ve seen is that he wants to play‚ he wants to attack‚ he wants to go forward.

“The quality that he has going forward‚ you know. And that’s what he wants. He wants goals and to go forward all the time.”

Zinnbauer impressed when‚ soon after his arrival‚ a storm erupted in a teacup over midfielder Fortune Makaringe’s supposed “showboating”. Asked about it‚ the coach said he was in SA to learn and adapt culturally.

Hlatswhayo was asked about Zinnbauer seemingly being in the mould of coaches who treat players like adults.

“Yeah‚ for sure. He did mention that he wants everyone to be relaxed and confident. But at the same time he’s a coach who wants discipline at all times‚” the player said.

“And he jokes with the players. And I like the fact that he’s even trying to learn Zulu‚ just to make sure everyone feels comfortable.

“And for sure‚ with this past season ending he did mention that now it’s going to be his first starting with a preseason and everything‚ and he wants to learn from everyone and be able and implement what he wants‚ as he joined the team late [in 2019-2020].”

While Zinnbauer adapted quickly to the PSL and achieved fast results arriving with six months to find his feet in an almost written-off 2019-2020 season‚ the pressure of chasing silverware for Soweto giants who have not won any in six years will make for a different environment in 2020-2021.

With a soldier such as Hlatshwayo added to Zinnbauer’s armoury‚ though‚ Pirates have the look of a menacing combination before a ball has been kicked in the new PSL season.

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