The Buccaneers endured a tough campaign and had to wait until the final day of the campaign to at least confirm a place in Africa for next term
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer believes injuries to key players, especially upfront, as well as a limited pre-season period, were the reasons why they missed their top-two target in the Premier Soccer League.
It was a difficult campaign for the Soweto giants who ended up readjusting their PSL goals to a third-place finish which they only managed to confirm after a 0-0 draw with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at home on Saturday.
On a number of occasions in the just-ended season, Zinnbauer was forced to play without an outright striker as his forwards were usually sidelined by injuries.
“Yes obviously that is what we wanted [finishing higher than third place]. It was our clear target but you don’t forget Covid-19 and it’s difficult without supporters for all teams and not just us,” Zinnbauer told SuperSport TV.
“But the biggest problem for us was strikers. [Tshegofatso] Mabasa broke his leg three times, Lepasa was out and Dzvukamanja came back just two weeks ago, Lorch 12 weeks out. A lot of players were injured this season.
“I can’t believe we were so unlucky in some moments this season. You see in this league, this year was very crazy for all teams except Sundowns who were constant. The other ones were up-down-up-down. AmaZulu were good in the last games and they deserved second place to be honest.
“But we now have a lot of information about this season and we have to work on it. We have to learn from our mistakes, to analyse ourselves with the staff and the players as well.
“I hope we have a good pre-season and not a pre-season of two and half or three weeks. We need four or five weeks and then we can work with the players, especially new ones.
“There was not enough time for pre-season the last time and at the end of the day the results were not enough for me. The target was second place or more but we now have to focus on next season.”
While Pirates needed just a point in their last game of the season to claim a top-three finish, they failed to score and also risked finishing outside the top-three as Golden Arrows were hot on their heels.
Zinnbauer conceded that it was not the kind of performance he expected from his players.
“The first minutes were good, the pressing was good, we had a lot of chances in the final third,” continued the German coach.
“It is always a problem when you have possession but don’t score and the mood was going a little bit down. The players knew the point was enough for a third place but the performance was not really good.”
Ending the season third on the PSL table will see Pirates returning to the Caf Confederations Cup next season.