Mena William, Josef Zinnbauer’s Egyptian representative, took a chance when he put his client in the hat for the Orlando Pirates job. As it turned out, he was about to receive the sort of pleasant surprise that every die-hard football fan dreams of
The cut-throat nature of professional sport means that one person’s joy is often another’s pain. When Orlando Pirates appointed Josef Zinnbauer as coach in December, predecessor Rhulani Mokwena was effectively ousted from his dream job. On the other hand, for Zinnbauer’s repre-sentative, Mena William, this was a career-defining moment.
William, who hails from Egypt, works as a manager for various coaches and players, although he prefers working with the former. He has been involved in football for six years and is living what many football fans would consider to be a dream.
“Football [has been] my passion since I was 10 years old. I loved football due to Ismaily SC, my favourite club,” William tells Careers Magazine. “I was also watching games in Europe that made my passion grow more and more. In 2014, I tried to involve myself in football, I hoped to change some things [rather than] only to watch it on TV or attend it in stadiums.”
In the years since, William has become part of the furniture. He is not a stranger to the PSL, and claims to have been in-volved in Ugandan striker Hamis Kiiza’s 2016 move to Free State Stars from Simba SC. However, working with Orlando Pirates was a particularly striking experience.
The prestige of the club gave me a feeling that not anyone can work with themWILLIAM ON ORLANDO PIRATES
“I never imagined that I could work with this big club, Orlando Pirates. The prestige of the club gave me a feeling that not anyone can work with them. Its management administrators are too professional,” William says. He reveals that he had been monitoring the situation at the Buccaneers since the sudden resignation of Milutin Sredojevi in August, which paved the way for Mokwena’s promotion from assistant coach.
Meanwhile, German mentor Zinnbauer had been without a coaching role for over two years since the end of his tenure at St. Gallen in Switzerland.
Mokwena’s position appeared tenuous as Pirates lost to Kaizer Chiefs on 2 and 9 November. He oversaw a win over Polokwane City and draw with Baroka afterwards, but ac-cording to William, Zinnbauer’s camp had already begun discussions with the Buccaneers prior to the two games against the Limpopo sides.
“At 11:30 on Thursday night, 21 November 2019, I sent a mes-sage to Mr Joe Zinnbauer to check up on him because I hadn’t talked to him since March 2019,” William reveals. “At the end of our call, I told him to send me his latest updated CV because I may have a proposal at a big club in Africa, particularly in South Africa, and he sent [it to] me.
“Before I got to bed, I’d sent the CV of Mr Joe Zinnbau-er to Orlando [Pirates] management and I was sure that I wouldn’t get any response. I decided to send to avoid blam-ing myself later [if I hadn’t].”
William would live to thank himself for that bold move. He reveals that he soon heard back from Orlando Pirates Mar-keting Manager Nkosana Khoza, the son of chairman Irvin.
“The Following Friday, 22 November 2019, I got a response to the CV of Mr Zinnbauer. I was surprised and was too hap-py to work with this professional club. Mr Nkosana Khoza informed me that we need to [set up] an interview with Mr Joe Zinnbauer and already gave me Zinnbauer’s flight tick-ets,” William says.
“He went to Johannesburg on 26 November for the first time and felt that he arrived [at] the heaven of Africa. He was happy to stay. Then, he [went] back again to Germa-ny on 3 December after the interview, then Mr Khoza sent us the contract to sign. After signature, Mr Zinnbauer came back again to Johannesburg on 10 December 2019 to start his job officially.”
Zinnbauer has got life in Johannesburg off to a solid start with 23 points in his first 10 league matches. William, for his part, hopes to conduct more business with South African clubs in future.
“For me I prefer to work in South African leagues rather than Egypt,” he says. “In Egypt, the league is too weak — the champion is known before the season begins. The Egyptian clubs outside of Ahli, Zamalek, Ismaily, and Pyramids aren’t ready to develop themselves, [nobody] appoints a foreign coach at any club outside of these four clubs. The major clubs are depending on the local coaches even if they fail.
“It is exactly the contrary in South Africa — the competition [for the league title] is between more than 6 clubs.”
Pirates had fallen far off the pace in the Absa Premiership prior to Zinnbauer’s appointment, but slowly clawed their way back in the new year. When league action resumes fol-lowing the Covid-19-enforced break, they will look to bridge an eight-point deficit to fierce rivals Kaizer Chiefs.
As for William — if he has it his way, this will prove to be only the beginning of his involvement in South African football.