The Buccaneers travelled to Libya with a severely depleted squad last week and could face the same situation in this weekend’s home assignment
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer welcomes back captain Happy Jele ahead of Sunday’s Caf Confederation Cup Group A match against Al Ahli Benghazi at Orlando Stadium but the Soweto giants still face an injury crisis.
Left-back Bongani Sam has become the latest injury casualty but Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch are still out.
Terrence Dzvukamanja was injured in the away 0-0 draw against Al Ahli Benghazi last Sunday and will have to undergo a late fitness test together with the likes of Deon Hotto, Thabang Monare and Thabiso Monyane who did not make the trip to Libya last week.
“Lorch is not available, Maela is not available. There is a question mark on Dzvukamanja and Sam is also not available,” Zinnbauer told the media.
“The other players I hope they come back in the training session latest tomorrow [Saturday]. The right-back situation is bad and we have not had good performances in that position. You know [Abel] Mabaso was out for a long time injured. He came back two weeks ago and waits to get a chance in the next games.
“That is the reason you have to start with full conditioned players in good shape also in this position and if you have to change during the game and it’s [Siphesihle] Ndlovu who is very flexible to play, then he can play. But at the moment he performed well and that was the reason he had to play as a right-back against Benghazi.
“I don’t know what will happen at the weekend but we have to see what happens in training and then make a decision about which players are available for us for this position.”
Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Ndlovu, Monyane and Wayde Jooste have been exchanged as right-backs by Zinnbauer this season.
It is not yet clear if goalkeeper Richard Ofori is back from injury as well as forward Jean-Marc Makusu.
Pirates enjoy an impressive home record in the Confederation Cup, having last tasted defeat in that competition as hosts in 2015 when they lost 1-0 to Zamalek before going for six matches without losing in Johannesburg.
“We played the away game [against Benghazi] and it was more of a home game for us because we controlled it,” said Zinnbauer.
“Now we are stronger at home, we know we don’t lose at home. It has been a long time now without losing at home. We know what we can do at home. We have to lead this game going forward.”
With the way they are performing in this competition, captain Jele feels that they stand a good chance of reaching the final.
“Ja‚ we can go through to the final. We’ve got a good team‚ everyone now knows how to win trophies‚” Jele told the media
“And you can even see the way they play in this competition, they put a lot of effort‚ and there’s a lot of playing for each other. And the results show that we never lost a game away and we won the games at home. So it shows that they are capable of getting to the final.
“But as well we have to start by competing this weekend‚ and the following games as well‚ so that we go to the quarter-finals. That’s the most important thing – let’s not talk about the final yet. But the most important thing is to go through to the next round. What I can say is that we are capable of going to the final.”
Having yet lost a game in this campaign, Pirates are second in Group A, just a point behind leaders Enyimba.