The Buccaneers blew a chance to reach the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-finals with a game to spare
Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says their performance “was not enough” to earn them three points against ES Setif on Wednesday as he hints at the return of defender Innocent Maela for their final Group A match away at Enyimba.
The Soweto giants were held 0-0 by Setif at Orlando Stadium but remain unbeaten in Group A as they now await the result between Al Ahli Benghazi on Thursday to see the full shape of their pool.
Having played Mamelodi Sundowns last Thursday, before clashing against Maritzburg United on Sunday, Zinnbauer feels that fatigue caught up with his side especially in the dying stages of the encounter against Setif.
“It was really a tough game. I think it was not the best performance from us,” Zinnbauer told the media.
“I have to say the opponent is not easy. We tried to play and have a big chance to score. My feeling was that we can score against this team but it was not so easy. Setif came more and more on the front and they also had big chances but we were lucky they missed that header.
“At the end of the day, it was not enough for three points. It was the correct result for both sides. I think we had a little bit more chances. I have to say Setif had more time to rest, we had two big games behind us. And in the final minutes, Setif came more on us and we were a bit tired.”
It was a match where victory would have secured Pirates progression to the knockout stageS of Caf’s second-tier club competition.
They now have to fight again on the final day of the group campaign as the draw left them three points clear at the top of Group A pending the outcome of the Al Ahli Benghazi-Enyimba clash.
Pirates lost goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane 24 minutes into Wednesday’s game due to injury and completed the contest without a substitute keeper after Wayne Sandilands came on.
With another gloveman Richard Ofori out injured, Pirates might face a crisis in that department ahead of Saturday’s Premier Soccer League clash against Swallows FC and next week’s trip to Enyimba.
While injuries are haunting Zinnbauer’s squad, the German, however, hinted at the possible return of defender Innocent Maela who last featured in the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs on March 21 and has since missed five games.
“For me, the target before the game was to get three points and then it’s finished for us,” said Zinnbauer.
“Now we have to wait for other results. But we have a game in Nigeria and we know this Enyimba is very strong in defence. We have to focus on us, we have to see what happens to our injured players. I hope we get one of the players back.
“Maela looks good but other players have to wait and see what happens. Important for me is not now or next week, but the Swallows game on Saturday. Now we should have a quick recovery and get some players back.”
Other injured players include Thembinkosi Lorch, Zakhele Lepasa, Jean-Marc Makusu and Bongani Sam.