Orlando Pirates face huge striker crisis


Orlando Pirates are facing a huge striker crisis following numerous injuries to their squad ahead of the start of the upcoming season.

Pirates faced off against Kaizer Chiefs in the Carling Black Label Cup game in Soweto on Sunday with only one recognised striker in Gabadihno Mhango.

Fellow attackers Zakhele Lepasa and Tshegofatso Mabasa were both ruled out due to injury which they sustained before the end of last season.

The Buccaneers suffered a 4-3 defeat after a penalty shoot-out to Chiefs after a goalless stalemate during regulation time.

Josef Zinnbauer's side now faces the real prospect of a clash against Swallows FC in the MTN8 on August 14 with Mhango remaining as their only option upfront.

"We have Mhango now so we have to focus on getting him to perform," Zinnbauer said.

"I hope over the next few days [Tshegofatso] Mabasa returns. But we cannot guarantee that he'll be ready for the game as he was out with a long-term injury.

"It was not his first major injury as with his previous injury, he was also out for a long time. He needs a bit more time to return, Zinnbauer added.

"Yes, every coach wants a striker, a top striker. If you have a top striker, you can score. Now you also see (Boitumelo) Raidopane, who has comes in and makes no bad game as an 18-year-old player.

"We have to focus on what we have. We have young players behind a big squad but we also have the experience.

"We have to wait now to see what happens next week or over the next 10 days in terms of Mabasa."

While Pirates are expected to see Mabasa return to training soon, it is still not yet clear when Lepasa will return after also sustaining a long-term injury last season.

"Lepasa is a little bit more behind like Mabasa. We have to wait but all coaches want their strikers on the field.

"If you have your strikers on the field, you have more chances to score. You can score most of the time but at the moment we have just Gaba and the youngsters behind."

Scroll through the gallery below to see images of the Black Label Cup celebrations