It’s the club – Riveiro sings Pirates’ praises

Jose Riveiro has won two MTN8 and two Nedbank Cup championships as he continues to turn Orlando Pirates back into a force in SA football. | BackpagePix

Jose Riveiro has won two MTN8 and two Nedbank Cup championships as he continues to turn Orlando Pirates back into a force in SA football. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 3, 2024



Jose Riveiro has sung the praises of Orlando Pirates’ healthy working environment that has helped him, his staff and players to succeed in the past two seasons.

Riveiro was regarded as a “plumber” when he took up the reins at Pirates last season. But the 48-year-old has given real meaning to the epithet – filling Pirates’ empty cabinet with four trophies in a space of 24 months. And these include two MTN8 and two Nedbank Cup crowns, the last Ke Yona Cup coming against rivals Mamelodi Sundowns at a packed Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night.

Orlando Pirates defended their Nedbank Cup on Saturday, beating Mamelodi Sundowns in a thrilling final. | BackpagePix

Riveiro didn’t want to take sole credit for plugging the holes at Pirates, but instead praised the working environment of the institution. Capturing the magic equation that has led to his triumphs still alludes him, however.

“If I had a formula, I would be a millionaire,” Riveiro declared, deep in the bowels of Mbombela at his post-match press conference.

“We are just trying to work as good as possible each day since I arrived with the people that are behind us, especially our group of players. I won’t say any team name, but you cannot win four trophies in a row if you are not in a proper place – so it’s not me, but the club.

“It’s Pirates. I have a fantastic group of players that I am working with, but we are also adding our part well as the technical team.”

Perhaps another clear indication that Riveiro and his right-hand men, Sergio Almenara and Mandla Ncikazi, do their jobs without interference showed in Saturday’s starting line-up.

The trio opted to demote on-form regulars Tshegofatso Mabasa, Kabelo Dlamini and Relebohile Mofokeng to the bench, a feat that set tongues wagging. It proved to be a masterstroke as the trio came off the bench and Mofokeng became a trump card, scoring the winner in stoppage.

Riveiro knows the initial decision could have backfired terribly if it didn’t work out, putting their jobs on the line. But he’s glad that their plan came off.

“Imagine if we lost?” Riveiro said. “But we are here to make decisions, so we try to make decisions that we feel are going to help us to win the game.

“We have players that are in form, and the ones that didn’t start today were regulars in those games – they gave us amazing moments. It was hard for me not to play them, but ‘we’ know, as the group, that in these types of games we need to dominate differently during play.

“We are happy with the plan… when we win, it’s fine, and when we don’t, then it’s rubbish from the outside. But we know how to win these types of games and we accept the risk.”

But while Riveiro and his team have mastered the tools they use to win trophies, he knows they can add more equipment to improve their league form.

Pirates again came short in challenging Sundowns for the title, settling for a second successive spot finish, albeit guaranteeing them Champions League football next season.

Riveiro says they have ambitions of knocking Sundowns off their perch next season. Hence, they want to beat them and every team week in and week out.

“I have learnt the level that my team can have on the day, and during the week when we are faced with these types of games,” reflected Riveiro on what works for them against Sundowns.

“But I can say that we are not that far. I cannot see that the difference between these two teams is 23 points (in the league), but it is. And that’s the reality.