Orlando Pirates have more centre-back options – Zinnbauer on Jele, Hlatshwayo decision

The German tactician did not start his captain in the first two games of the season and now explains his choice

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer has justified dropping Happy Jele in previous matches, before picking him for Wednesday’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) 1-1 draw against Stellenbosch, saying he selects his twin centre-backs according to the opponents his team is facing.

Jele came on as a late substitute in the 1-0 MTN8 quarter-final win over Cape Town City, before being overlooked for the league opener against AmaZulu.

In Jele’s absence, Zinnbauer preferred Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza as the central defence pairing.

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But on Wednesday at home, Hlatshwayo was at the heart of defence with Jele, while Nyauza operated as a right-back.

“We have more centre-back possibilities. This was the first game [Hlatshwayo and Jele played together],” Zinnbauer told the media.

“I saw it in the first half [against Stellenbosch] all players were not in the game. The second half all players were in the game. When we play football, for all players it is possible [to play], we have a big squad and we have more centre-backs and it is always up to the opponent and the performance a player gives us in a game or in a training session. I say it again that it is also important for me which opponent we are playing.”

The Stellenbosch draw was a consecutive similar result for Pirates who were held 1-1 by AmaZulu four days earlier.

Zinnbauer feels that his side were unlucky not to collect maximum points at home.

“Had we had a little luck then I think we could have scored more than two goals in the second half but it’s obvious in football when it doesn’t work in 90 minutes, then it is not enough, you need more luck,” said Zinnbauer.

“We expected three points and it was a home game. As Orlando Pirates we want three points from all games but we know it is not always possible. But when you watch the second half, it is possible.”

New goalkeeper signing Richard Ofori made his debut for Pirates, starting ahead of Wayne Sandilands.

Zinnbauer says he will be selecting his goalkeepers based on performance in the last game.

“After the game now we go at home and watch the game again and analyse it with my staff and then we have a training session tomorrow. We will then we make a decision for the next opponent. We find a solution for which player will help us win the game,’ said Zinnbauer.

Pirates now prepare to face old foes Kaizer Chiefs in Saturday’s MTN8 semi-finals and it is yet to e seen which goalkeeper will start.

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