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Football Reporting


Zinnbauer’s Orlando Pirates arrival sparked change – Mhango

The German took charge of the Soweto giants in December 2019 and appears to have given them hope to end a lengthy trophyless period

Orlando Pirates forward Frank Mhango says the arrival of coach Josef Zinnbauer helped players to be “focused and pushing” in their bid to end a six-year trophy drought.

Pirates last won silverware in 2014 when they claimed the Nedbank Cup and have not clinched the Premier Socer League (PSL) titler since 2012.

Zinnbauer took over the coaching reins from Rhulani Mokwena as Pirates struggled for form, and the German managed to steer the Soweto giants to a third place finish in the PSL.

It was a season in which Mhango flourished, finishing the campaign on 16 goals, the same as Mamelodi Sundowns forward Peter Shalulile who was then turning out for Highlands Park.

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“For me last season was wonderful. It was great to join a team like Orlando Pirates and then become one of the top goal scorers in the team,” Mhango told Front Runner.

“It was something I was looking forward to and it is something that is still going to come. When I was still at Wits I told my [then] coach Gavin that I am going to score 15 goals but he was like ‘hey stop joking.

“If you want to score 15 goals you must go and play at Thohoyandou but I said that is what I believe, I am going to score 15 goals.

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“Then I did it, I actually scored 16 goals by the grace of God. For me it was just a target I set for myself. I didn’t know that I was going to move from Wits to Orlando Pirates, it is something that happened so quick.

“The moment the coach came everything changed. You could see that everybody was focused and pushing. We started playing as a unit. We came together and we were like ‘guys this is our job, this is what we need to do, let us push ourselves, let us do it together.’

“Then we did it as a team. It was a great feeling because everyone took part in it. It was teamwork for us to do what we did.”

This season has seen Mhango’s progress being blighted by injuries and the Malawian has featured in just two PSL matches, scoring one goal, from the penalty spot against AmaZulu.

But the 28-year-old feels that he can still manage as better outing that last term.

Apart from a good outing on the domestic front, Mhango relishes leaving a mark in Africa as Pirates participate in the Caf Confederation Cup.

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“There are a lot of beautiful goals that I have scored, there are still beautiful goals coming. I need to look forward to this season,” said Mhango.

“We didn’t start the season well but in the middle of it we picked up some form and then Covid-19 came so it let us down and we needed to go back home, staying at home and that time the mentality of football was out.

“We lost focus and the momentum we had. It was hard. It was not only us but every team. It was tough.

“At the end of the day we tried to push each other as a team. That was the target [to qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup] because this is a big club in Africa. We deserve to play in Africa.

“That was the target, Even the coach told that ‘guys if we can’t make it number one or number two we still have to play in Africa. That was the target when we started.”

Pirates resume their league campaign by hosting SuperSport United on Saturday.

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