AmaZulu’s Pablo Franco frustrated by Orlando Pirates fixture change

AmaZulu FC’s head coach, Pablo Franco, finds himself grappling with the PSL’s recent decision to reschedule their league showdown against Orlando Pirates.

The encounter, initially postponed due to the MTN8 final, is now set to take place at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday evening (19:30).

Originally, AmaZulu were slated to host Pirates on October 3 at the same venue. However, the fixture was deferred to accommodate the Buccaneers’ participation in the MTN8 final, held just four days later against Mamelodi Sundowns, where Pirates emerged triumphant via a penalty shootout.

Franco, clearly exasperated by the sudden scheduling change, voiced his concerns, saying, “To be honest, I don’t expect too much [from our game against Pirates] because I think it’s not fair to play on Tuesday. It was something unexpected…this is something coming from the PSL.”

The frustration was evident after AmaZulu’s recent victory over Kaizer Chiefs, securing a 1-0 win in the last 16 of the Carling Knockout at FNB Stadium, with Taariq Fielies’ 88th-minute goal proving decisive.

Franco further elaborated, “We had to play Pirates before the MTN8 final, and they postponed the game, which I understand, but to play this game on Tuesday after we had a crucial game on Saturday at 18:00, we couldn’t travel back home today [on Saturday], so that means we’ll only have Monday to prepare for Pirates.”

The coach’s frustration stems from the minimal time available for adequate preparation, a crucial aspect when facing top-tier teams like Chiefs and Pirates. Franco emphasized that part of his allure to South Africa was the opportunity to compete against such formidable opponents, provided his team had the necessary time to prepare.

“I came here [in SA] to play this kind of games, like the one we played today [against Chiefs]…to beat these opponents. To beat big teams like Chiefs, you need to prepare really well, and we should do the same when we are facing Pirates,” Franco affirmed.

He underlined the significance of thorough preparations for his team’s performance, stating, “With [proper] preparations, I feel this team [AmaZulu] won’t fear anyone. We are ready to compete against anyone and are capable of beating anyone, but without preparations and no time to rest, it’s going to be much more difficult.”

Franco’s sentiments reflect the challenges that fixture changes can present to coaches and teams, particularly when facing top-notch adversaries in South African football.