Stade Reims midfielder Marshall Munesti feels that Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer “has made a big difference” at the club and can steer them back to being a dominant force on the African continent if they play regular Caf Champions League football.
Zinnbauer took over the helm at the 1995 African Champions last December when they were enduring a difficult season.
But he has transformed them into a formidable outfit with chances of at least finishing second in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title race and earn a Champions League spot for next season.
Munetsi, a former Buccaneers defensive midfielder, has credited Zinnbauer for the huge influence he has had at the club.
“I think he [Zinnbauer] has made a big difference when he came especially that the team was not winning enough games even though they were playing some good football. I guess he fixed what wasn’t right and brought some confidence into the players,” Munetsi told FARPost. He moved to French Ligue 1 side Reims from Pirates last year.
Now Pirates are already dreaming of a return to Champions League football next season.
Last season, the Bucs’ campaign in the Champions League ended in the group stage with Munetsi part of that squad as their bid for a second continental trophy flopped.
But the Zimbabwean feels that under Zinnbauer, Pirates can return become a giant in African football again, but they would need to first consistently campaign in the elite club competition.
“The Champions League is another level where Sundowns have excelled because they are playing there every season. So now for Pirates, it is important to first get back to playing there every season and hopefully they can eventually win it,” Munetsi said.
On another thought, Munetsi says that strong attitude can fast-track the Bucs back to top position in Africa.
“It also depends on the mentality of players. Maybe they can even win it in the first season of return [to the Champions League]. So it can be about mentality,” he added.
The closest Pirates came to reclaiming their continental heavyweight status was reaching the 2013 final under Roger De Sa before losing 3-1 on aggregate to Al Ahly.
By Michael Madyira