Riveiro revels in Pirates’ top form

PATRICK Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates challenges Boikanyo Komane of Richards Bay FC in the DStv Premiership match. | BackpagePix

PATRICK Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates challenges Boikanyo Komane of Richards Bay FC in the DStv Premiership match. | BackpagePix

Published May 11, 2024



JOSE Riveiro might have put all his eggs in one basket for the clash against Richards Bay tonight, but he’s also mapped out his team’s targets for the rest of the season.

Orlando Pirates have arguably been the best team in the land in domestic football in the past few weeks, after winning seven games on the trot in all competitions.

It’s been a tremendous run that has seen the Sea Robbers cruise to steady waters regarding their targets in the Nedbank Cup and DStv Premiership.

The Bucs are on course to defend the Ke Yona Cup as they’ll face Mamelodi Sundowns in the final in Mbombela on June 1.

That’s not all. They are still on course to finish second behind the newly-crowned champions Sundowns in the league, as they are third and one point behind second-placed Stellenbosch.

Pirates could temporarily reach the promised land – the second spot – if they manage to beat Bay tonight (8pm) at Orlando, and provided Stellies drop points away to Moroka Swallows in an earlier kick-off (3pm).

Despite being on cloud nine over his team’s performance and results, Riveiro is not naïve and thinking that Bay will be there for the taking.

In fact, the Spaniard reasons that the “six-pointer” will be tough, as the 15th-placed Bay want to pull away from an automatic relegation battle after basement dwellers Cape Town Spurs, who trail them by five points, won mid-week.

“Absolutely, it’s going to be difficult because Richards Bay are coming (at the back of) Cape Town Spurs getting a victory (on Tuesday),” the Pirates coach said after the 2-0 win over Chippa United in Orlando on Wednesday.

“The situation at the bottom is getting tighter, so they’ll come here desperately trying to collect points.”

Pirates are also in desperate need of points. And that’s why Riveiro wants his team to win tonight and take a huge momentum into the last two matches of the league season, which will be tough.

“Then we’ll have to go to (TS) Galaxy. If I am not mistaken, they have the second-best record at home,” the Spaniard added.

“We’ll then finish the league here with SuperSport (United) in what is always a difficult fight.”

With his troops on a high and showing no signs of slowing down, Riveiro has added another box he wants them to tick, alongside the coveted second spot finish, come May 25.

“The target is to get more points than last season. Last season, we got 54 points, and we can get 58 this season,” Riveiro explained.

“Hopefully we can get that number of points and the second position. But like I said, it doesn’t depend on us only. We also depend on the results of Stellenbosch.”

Granted, Stellies will have a say on where Pirates finish, but individuals such as Patrick Maswanganyi and Relebohile Mofokeng have driven Pirates’ pursuits this season.

The duo hasn’t only contributed to goals, but they are silk on the ball with deft touches that either mesmerise opponents or get “The Ghost” on their feet.

“Football itself is an expression; it is an art,” said Riveiro on the importance of their tricksters and ball-playing players.

“The players on the field have a different capacity. They need to use whatever they want to use in order to create opportunities within our structure, and I am fine with that.”

Maswanganyi, in particular, is enjoying such an impressive season that he’s become an instant fan favourite, with “The Ghost” repeatedly chanting his nickname, “Tito! Tito! Tito!”, with every passing game.

And despite not being a fan of singling out players, Riveiro is happy that Maswanganyi and others have used the fans’ support as the fuel that drives them to be at their best.

“As long as they continue singing because they are performing well, I am happy,” Riveiro explained.

“Like I said, the supporters identify the players they like, and they go to the stadium to watch them. And these also include players they like to see on the ball.

“Right now, we have many of those players in good form and our fans are absolutely happy with them.

“But everyone around needs support, and that’s the most important thing. We have been getting that support in the recent weeks where we go.”