Orlando Pirates will need all their best players including forward Gabadinho Mhango to stay injury-free to ensure that they have a real chance at going the distance during the second half of the season.
With Zakhele Lepasa still in a moon boot and recovering from an ankle injury, Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer said that star striker Mhango is in line to start against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday as he is close to full fitness.
Zinnbauer has looked to Mhango as the man to help the Soweto giants beat DStv Premiership defending champions Sundowns in their first match of the new year.
The Malawian international was a revelation last season as he enjoyed a new lease of life with the Buccaneers. He notched 16 goals to end the 2019/20 season as joint top goalscorer along with Peter Shalulile.
However, this season, injury has limited Mhango’s game time as he has only made five league appearances with a single goal and an assist to his name.
He has since recovered from a groin injury and played the full 90 minutes in Pirates’ 1-0 win against Sagrada Esperance in a Caf Confederation Cup first-round game in Angola last week.
“‘Gaba’ [Mhango] is close to 100% and now needs the time and games,” said Zinnbauer, who led the ‘Buccaneers’ to their first trophy in six years by winning the MTN8 this month.
“We have seven games in January, and we need all the players. Gaba is not the only player important to us but all the players are.
“We have so many attacking players. We have [Terrence] Dzvukamanja who can also play as a striker.
“We have a good squad, but the point is we need a good player for each and every position,” added Zinnbauer.
The Sundowns and Pirates match will kick off at 15:30 on Saturday in Pretoria with Zinnbauer describing the clash as “special”
“We know Sundowns possibly have some of the best players in their squad. They have a big‚ big squad and we know it. And we also have a good squad and it’s a special game for us.
“This is important to us, but we must have a good game first and a good performance. If we have a good performance, we’ll have possibilities of winning the game,” concluded the German mentor.
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By FARPost Reporter
all pictures courtesy of Orlando Pirates