Lack of strike power hurting Orlando Pirates

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Lack of strike power hurting Orlando Pirates

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published 13m ago

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JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer believes the absence of striking duo Zakhele Lepasa and Tshegofatso Mabasa against Mamelodi Sundowns proved costly as his charges failed to bury the chances they created.

During an undefeated streak of 11 matches in the first half of the season, where they also won the coveted MTN8 title, Pirates didn't go a match without scoring, after their striking department showed improvement from the bio bubble at the end of last season.

Pirates' ability to fire on all cylinders upfront has been led by Lepasa and Mabasa who were thrown in the deep end after last season'stop scorer, Gabadinho Mhango, who netted 14 times, sustained an injury early this term.

The duo, who've scored four goals between them, were absent due to injuries from the Buccaneers' first game of the New Year as they came unstuck 1-0 to defending champions Sundowns at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, following a close-range tap-in from defender Brian Onyango in the first half.

The Buccaneers, however, didn't easily surrender to their first defeat of the season as they piled on the pressure for an equaliser through the revitalised Thembinkosi Lorch. But Zinnbauer believes that had Lepasa and Mabasa been available, their efforts would have paid dividends.

“We had a lot of chances,” Zinnbauer said. “We had Lepasa and Mabasa in good shapes but we lost both players in the same game (against Chippa United).

“They are strikers that can score. They also played a role in assisting.”

Mhango and new striker JeanMarc Makusu also made their cameos in the second half against Downs, but Zinnbauer believes that a striker who's confident in scoring is better than the one gradually introduced into the fray.

“We have other strikers who were on the field as well. But in this game, I think even if we played 10-20minutes more, we wouldn't score.

“Then you need someone with 100% confidence in terms of scoring,” said the 50-year-old German.

Had Sundowns gone on to punish Pirates more, that would, in more ways, show the depth variation

between the two teams. The former fielded a relatively makeshift team, while Pirates brought their strongest starting line-up to Tshwane on Saturday.

But the Bucs coach is not focusing on what could have been for his opponents, instead reckons that had they been clinical and lucky in front of goal, they'd have at least got something out of the game, especially looking at the chances created.

“As a coach, if you need a goal then it's not important if you lose 2-0 or 1-0. It's important that you win the game or get a draw. It's not not important how many counterattacks Sundowns had, it's important how many opportunities we had,” he said.

“This was our focus in the last 20 minutes. We know that Sundowns are good in counter-attacks. But we needed the full power of our offence. But we did that as a risk. If we played a draw (or win) you'd say, ‘oh, what a tactical change of substitutes'.”

The Buccaneers will be hoping to return to winning ways when they host Angolan-based side Sagrada Esperanca in the return leg of the last round of the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary qualifiers at home on Wednesday.

They hold a 1-0 advantage from the away leg.

@Mihlalibaleka

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