December 6, 2021

When pressure builds, Orlando Pirates break – Mothibi doubts Caf Confederation Cup credentials

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The Northern Cape-born retired striker reflected on the 2019/20 season and he explained why Bucs couldn’t push for the PSL title after the restart 

Former Orlando Pirates marksman James Mothibi doubts the Soweto giants’ ability to win next season’s Caf Confederation Cup.

The Buccaneers are set to compete in the continental tournament after securing third spot finish in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) during the 2019/20 season.

They will be making their return to Africa’s secondary club competition for the first time since 2015 when they were defeated by Tunisia‘s Etoile du Sahel in the final. 

However, Mothibi, who also played for African Wanderers in the PSL, is doubtful if Pirates can go all the way to lift the continental title.

“In Africa, as an ex-player I’m not sure. Because I realised from the Pirates team, is that when pressure builds up, they break,” Mothibi told The Citizen

“I think the coach just needs to fix that part. When they are 1-0 or 2-0 down they don’t have that fighting spirit to say, ‘if the opponents scored two goals we can go on and score four’. We had that spirit under Kosta Papic,” he continued.

“But they are going to fight, I’m just not sure about them going all out to win the trophy because most players in the current team lack experience,” he continued. 

“But I trust the players, I trust the management, I trust the chairman Irvin Khoza and the supporters. I think they well, just not sure about lifting the trophy [Caf Confederations Cup].”

Pirates accumulated 52 points in the league – seven points behind PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns and five points behind second-placed Kaizer Chiefs.

Mothibi feels Bucs coach Josef Zinnbauer has done well since he took over from Rhulani Mokwena in December 2019, but he believes the PSL break which was enforced by the coronavirus pandemic killed the team’s momentum.

“The coach did well under difficult circumstances at Pirates. Remember he came in the middle of the season and tried to make the team click,” he explained. 

“But then the lockdown came. It killed the momentum that he was building. After that, he tried to continue rebuilding it when the government gave the green light for the return of football.

“They did well until they ended up finishing in position three. Out of 100 percent I will give them 98 percent because they really did well.”

Pirates are set to start their 2020/21 campaign with an MTN8 quarter-final clash against Cape Town City on the weekend of 16-18 October.

The league season will then start on October 24.