Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer. Picture: GAVIN BARKER/BACKPAGEPIX
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer. Picture: GAVIN BARKER/BACKPAGEPIX

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says their home defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday‚ which further dented their chances of finishing in the top three‚ was not a true reflection of his team’s performance and defended his cautious approach.

Zinnbauer had strikers Tshegofatsho Mabasa and Gabhadinho Mhango on the bench, but chose to start the Premier Soccer League (PSL) clash at Orlando Stadium with only two attack-minded players in Deon Hotto and Vincent Pule upfront.        

Hotto and Pule had midfielders Fortune Makaringe‚ Abel Mabaso‚ Ben Motshwari and Siphesihle Ndlovu behind them in a cautious formation.

Although Pirates had a fairly impressive first half‚ which ended goalless‚ a rampant Sundowns scored three unanswered second-half goals to regain their top spot and leave the Buccaneers in fifth position.

“The results look very bad but the performance was not bad‚” said the German coach. “We know they have quality in the team and it is not easy. They are the number one team in the league and this is the quality that they have.”

Pirates lost the plot when they conceded a penalty shortly after the restart for the opening goal which Sundowns’ Brazilian captain Ricardo Nascimento converted. Peter Shalulile and substitute Lyle Lakay later put the result beyond doubt.

Zinnbauer questioned referee Luxolo Badi’s penalty decision, and said luck was not with his team on the day.

“I think if you watched the game ... it is not a penalty.

“It was unlucky for us. If we had a little bit more luck we could have scored first. We could not score because we did not get the luck that we needed.”

Zinnbauer admitted he is aware the Pirates supporters may not have been happy with his decision to leave strikers Mabasa and Mhango on the bench. It was because the two forwards are still fresh from recovering from injuries and he did not want to risk them, he said.

Although Zinnbauer rang the changes and brought in strikers Mabasa and Mhango for Mabaso and Pule respectively‚ Pirates only managed six shots at goal‚ two of which were on target.

“If you speak about four chances or four shots‚ then let us speak about how many times we were in the box and we missed‚ and how many crosses we missed.”

Pirates‚ who are on 39 points  and trail leaders Sundowns by 11 points with six matches remaining‚ are in danger of missing out on qualifying for Confederation of African Football (Caf) competitions next season.

They trail red-hot, second-placed AmaZulu by 10 points and are three points behind Lamontville Golden Arrows in third place‚ though the two KwaZulu-Natal clubs have played two matches more. Swallows are a point ahead of them in fourth spot.

Pirates will look to redeem themselves when they host bottom club Black Leopards in Orlando on Wednesday. 

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