WATCH: Jose Riviero says Orlando Pirates CAF Champions League group stage exit exit is ‘not acceptable’

Orlando Pirates on the sidelines during their CAF Champions League match against Jwaneng Galaxy

“It’s not acceptable ... This team is built and prepared to go to the Champions League group stage,” said Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Oct 1, 2023


Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro cut a dejected figure in the bowels of Orlando Stadium after his side crashed out of the Caf Champions League on Friday night.

Pirates lost 5-4 on penalties to Jwaneng Galaxy in the group stage qualifiers, with the tie having ended 1-1 following 180 minutes of the two-legged contest.

Pirates went into the second leg in Orlando knowing they had to score at all costs if they were to have any chance of reaching the group stage after losing 1-0 away.

And boy, they huffed and puffed for the equaliser as Evidence Makgopa chipped in with the goal in the second half, which raised the Buccaneers’ hopes.

But it wasn’t to be as 18-year-old goalkeeper Relebohile Mofokeng was the only one to miss a spot-kick for Pirates, resulting in the Botswana-based outfit winning the shoot-out 5-4.

It was not a good enough result for Pirates, and Riveiro knew there were no excuses for his team not to reach the group stage.

“A difficult night. It’s not acceptable ... This team is built and prepared to go to the Champions League group stage,” Riveiro said.

“So, we can’t accept this result and say, ‘We’re unlucky.’ Nobody feels proud of the result. We must accept it, analyse it and take responsibility for the defeat – the coach more than anybody else.

“And we need to do a proper reflection about our participation in this competition, because obviously it wasn’t good enough.”

While Pirates were denied entry to the continental showpiece group stage on penalties, their Achilles heel in recent weeks has been up front.

Pirates had failed to score before Friday night, resulting in three successive losses across three different competitions: the Champions League, Dstv Premiership and MTN8.

And with striker Zakhele Lepasa failing to score in those encounters, could it be that Pirates were exposed for being over-reliant on his scoring form earlier in the season?

“No!” replied the Spaniard. “It’s true we didn’t score in the last three games the goals that we should have (having dominated and created chances).

“But it’s football and a scoring game. But the goals do not rely only on one player – the number nine. I think you are biased if you think in that way.”

Pirates will not have time to lick their wounds as they’ll have to prepare for the MTN8 final against Mamelodi Sundowns at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday.

The Brazilians already got one over their rivals this season, winning 1-0 in the league two weeks ago – adding more reason for Pirates to bounce back.