It has been a turbulent season on the coaching front for Pirates, but which players have managed to stay the course and play the most games?
Such have been the coaching changes at Orlando Pirates that three tacticians have taken charge of the side this term in Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic, Rhulani Mokwena and now Josef Zinnbauer. It has meant plenty of adaptation to training methods and game-plans for the squad, and KICK OFF’s Lovemore Moyo details what each player has contributed under the trio of coaches.
Happy Jele 24 appearances (2 goals)
Suspensions have been the reason why Jele hasn’t played in the three games he has missed this season. As captain he has been a commanding leader and has contributed two goals to the cause as well.
He was in the starting line-up under ‘Micho’ Sredojevic and remained a vital cog under Rhulani Mokwena, featuring in 11 out of 14 games, while under the Germany Zinnbauer gaffer he has played every minute.
The one-club man has gone about his duties like the experienced man that he has become and is always the first to stand up when the going gets tough.
No coach would be tempted to sacrifice a man who has won it all in domestic football and played in both the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations finals.
Wayne Sandilands 23 appearances
The veteran goalkeeper has improved on his first two seasons with the club by rising to become the team’s first-choice this term with assertive displays between the posts. Sandilands played in the two games that Sredojevic oversaw and continued as preferred choice through Mokwena’s reign, even though he sat on the bench in the three matches that Joris Delle played.
Sandilands has only missed four matches that Pirates have played this season and will be encouraged by the contribution that he has made with nine clean sheets to his name.
Under Zinnbauer he has not conceded more than one goal in any of the 10 games that he has played, which is a huge improvement after having been beaten at least twice in all of the last three games that Mokwena was in charge of as head coach.
This season the 36-year-old has played twice under Sredojevic, 11 games under Mokwena and 10 so far under Zinnbauer.
Fortune Makaringe 23 appearances (1 goal)
Makaringe has settled in quickly and done the basics right in central midfield, where he often must drop deep to grind instead of staying further up the field and aiding with his creative influence like he did at Maritzburg United.
He has been difficult to ignore for all three coaches, with Mokwena using him in all the games that he oversaw while he has missed just two games under Zinnbauer.
Gabadinho Mhango 22 appearances (15 goals)
The Malawian forward has been the best performer under Jozef Zinnbauer by a country mile after having carried the goal-scoring torch from the day the German took over banging 10 in as many games.
Prior to Zinnbauer taking over, Mhango had scored five in 12 games – a clear reflection of the change of fortunes he has had.
Under Mokwena he was an unused substitute twice and even failed to make the match day squad in another two games, but then two of his goals were against Kaizer Chiefs gave which gave weight to his cause.
Mhango has shown that as long as he is shown faith he can deliver the goods and is now in strong contention to finish the season as a top scorer, helped by the fact that he is now playing games from start to end regularly as well under Zinnbauer.
Innocent Maela 22 appearances (2 goals)
Maela has been doing a polished job at centre back or left back, depending on what system is used. He missed two games under Mokwena in October and has not been involved in three since Zinnabauer took over. The 27-year-old has played regularly in all his three seasons at Pirates.
Vincent Pule 22 appearances (2 goals)
The livewire winger has played from start to end in all but one of the games since Zinnbauer took over, proving just how much trust has been bestowed on him.
Under Mokwena he didn’t do a complete shift in six games. Save for the time when he was injured early in the season, Pule has played regardless of who is in charge and his goals and assists totals should be far better than they are at the moment.
Two goals and three assists are not inspiring for an offensive player like Pule.
Ntsikelelo Nyauza 21 appearances
He usually goes about his duties unnoticed and has mostly partnered Jele in central defence this season.
The 30-year-old wasn’t even in the squad for the two games that Micho oversaw but then fought his way back under Mokwena and managed 11 appearances, including three as the skipper when Jele was absent.
Under Zinnbauer he has missed a single game, but has gone about his duties with effect.
Thembinkosi Lorch 21 appearances (3 goals)
There has been a huge drop from what Lorch did last season compared to what he has contributed this term.
Just three goals and as many assists is not an improvement from the fine form he displayed in the last campaign when his goals tally in all competitions went into double figures.
When available to play he has been used and has featured in the last nine games in a row, despite scoring just once under Zinnbauer. It has not been a good season at all for Lorch.
Tshegofatso Mabasa 19 appearances (6 goals)
Mabasa was the go-to man for goals earlier on in the season but hasn’t scored since Zinnbauer took over and during that time he has had to play from the bench in all his five appearances.
Thrice he has been kept on the bench until the end and has not been in the squad on another three occasions under the German.
Under Mokwena he played in all 14 games, during which time he scored his six goals.
Ben Motshwari 18 appearances (1 goal)
Motshwari missed a sizeable amount of games during Mokwena’s reign, when he was injured but came back strongly to wrestle the central midfield midfifield position from all other contenders.
Such is his reliability that when he plays you are guaranteed he will put in a 90-minutes shift and has been a workhorse in the spine, missing just two games under the German gaffer. The proof is in the pudding about the work that Motshwari does.
Kabelo Dlamini 15 appearances (2 goals)
Fifteen appearances have been encouraging for Dlamini in his first season in the first team. What is a worry is that he hasn’t played 90 minutes and has been substituted in all six games that he has started.
Both his goals came in the last two league games that Mokwena took charge of and after playing the first two under Zinnbauer, he has totalled 17 minutes in the league since then.
Luvuyo Memela 15 appearances
Memela will not be impressed about that he hasn’t scored so far this season considering that he is a winger who gets chances to find the back of the net.
He has been involved in all but one of the games since Zinnbauer took over after staying as an unused substitute against Bloemfontein Celtic at the beginning of the year.
He played a mere 16 minutes spread over three appearances under Mokwena after being involved in both games that Micho oversaw.
Abel Mabaso 14 appearances
The 29-year-old was out of the picture until October when Mokwena finally gave him a chance at right-back, going on to feature in five games.
Mabaso has an assured touch to the way he plays his football, which has led to him not being involved in just three games under Zinnbauer, who continued with him at rightback after taking over late last year.
Paseka Mako 13 appearances (1 goal)
The multi-functional left footer played eight of his games under Mokwena, who used him both as a leftleft-back and further up on the pitch.
Mako has gone on to play another five since Zinnbauer took over, managing one goal.
Augustine Mulenga 13 appearances (1 goal)
Mulenga’s only goal came in the opening match of the season and since then has been given a fair amount of game time by Mokwena, delivering two assists playing in the front row.
He started the first two games overseen by Zinnbauer, but with then fell out of favour and with the team in good form it has become difficult for him to get minutes.
His game time count is at three under the German and he knows he needs to dig deeper to play more often.
Siphesihle Ndlovu 11 appearances
The pint-sized midfielder has been left scratching his head wondering what he
needs to do to get more minutes on the field.
Ndlovu was kept on the bench by Micho and then got a run of five games in a row under Mokwena, before playing twice in the next eight games that were overseen by the man who is now in charge of Chippa United.
He was out of the picture when Zinnbauer took over but has had a run in four games since then. The concern remains that he has only played 90 minutes twice all season – not satisfying for a central midfielder who arrived at the beginning of the campaign with high hopes.
Justin Shonga 11 appearances
Two appearances since Zinnbauer arrived have left the Zambian a frustrated figure who has now become frontpage news for the Sunday tabloids for all that is said to be happening in his off-field life.
Without a goal so late into the season means this has been a disastrous campaign for Shonga, who was preferred by Sredojevic and played seven games under Mokwena without scoring a goal. The alarm is ringing, and departure might be next for the 23-year-old.
Alfred Ndengane 11 appearances
The 33-year-old was a rather strange signing at the beginning of last year and has been an alternative option this season, as proven by that from his 11 appearances he has only played a full shift in just five. Rather unusual for someone who plays as a central defender.
He has been used from the bench to lock the points in the cupboard and after having featured in the opening two games he eventually fell out of favour with Mokwena and has played just a single full game under Zinnbauer.
He is a hardman who tends to be clumsy and lethargic in doing his business on the field.
Thabiso Monyane 11 appearances
For a teenager to have managed 11 appearances is encouraging regardless of what level of first team football it is.
He has played 90 minutes on five occasions so there is no need for him to feel like he hasn’t done enough. Fact is that he is destined for better in years to come.
Linda Mntambo 9 appearances (1 goal)
Into his second season playing for the club from ‘home’ Mtambo would have wished for better fortunes than he has had.
He was completely out at the beginning of the season before being thrown into the fray by Mokwena under whom he played five games.
Under Zinnbauer he played in the first three and then dropped to the bench for the next three, and has had one other appearance since then.
Xola Mlambo 7 appearances
It is difficult to digest just how Mlambo has played only seven games all season. All those appearances were under Mokwena. Could it be for lack of effort or the fact his casual approach is not appealing to Zinnbauer?
Mlambo will be the first to admit that he hasn’t done anything to be proud as he hasn’t managed to break into the match day squad since the Germany arrived.
Mthokozisi Dube 6 appearances
Game time has been a bit of a battle for Dube this term as he has played just twice under Mokwena, while he has been on the field in four games under the German mentor.
The grip that he had on the right-back position in his first season back from Bloemfontein Celtic has been loosening.
Joris Delle 4 appearances
The French goalkeeper arrived from the Netherlands, hoping to take over as first choice considering all the chaos that had defined the Pirates goalkeeping department in the last couple of years.
Truth be told he has not been worth the trouble, conceding 11 goals in the four games that he has played this term and has justifiably been glued to the bench.
He played three consecutive games under Mokwena last September and was to blame for some of the eight goals that he conceded through that period.
Since Zinnbauer took over, the 29-yearold has not played in the league and in the single Nedbank Cup match that he featured in, he conceded three before Pirates lost on penalties.
Zakhele Lepasa 3 appearances
This hasn’t been what Lepasa was hoping for after his exploits while on loan at TS Galaxy last season, where he scored the winner in the Nedbank Cup final against Kaizer Chiefs.
He has battled to break into the match day squad let alone the 18 and besides being given 120 minutes in the Nedbank Cup against BidVest Wits by Zinnbauer, he has only played on another two occasions – both of them totalling 21 minutes and then sat as an unused substitute in another two games. Rather disappointing return.
Bongani Sam 2 appearances
Sam was signed at the back of the encouraging season he had at Bloemfontein Celtic last term, but simply found game-time minutes a battle at Pirates.
The two appearances that he made at left-back came under Zinnbauer in January when Maela was absent.
Austin Muwowo 2 appearances
The Zambian has yet to show The Ghost what he was signed for having played just 18 minutes split between two appearances to date, once under Mokwena and then another under Zinnbauer.