Go big or go home … Orlando Pirates coach Jose’ Riveiro warns Bucs ahead of MTN8 semi

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro answers questions during a press conference

Jose Riveiro will want his Orlando Pirates team to attack in their MTN8 semi. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Sep 22, 2023


Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro is not a perfectionist, but he knows that certain matches deserve a different approach.

Pirates have had a mixed start under Riveiro this season, having won six matches, drawn one and lost two across all competitions.

And while that hasn’t warranted their Premiership title hopes, having lost two league games – including to champions Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday night – Pirates still hold a precious record.

Since Riveiro took over the reins, Pirates are yet to lose in a domestic Cup game, winning eight matches and drawing one en route to winning the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup last season.

That run has stretched this term, with Pirates keeping their MTN8 Cup defence intact after beating Sekhukhune United in the quarter-finals and Stellenbosch FC 2-1 in the semi-final first leg away.

Speaking ahead of his team’s return leg clash at home to Stellenbosch on Sunday, Riveiro lifted the lift on their impressive run in Cup competitions.

“We do pretty much the same (things), but the approach for the knockout games is pretty much different – be it one leg or two legs. Those are different details,” Riveiro said.

“But for whatever reason, we are (doing well) so far ... hopefully we can continue with the record. We’ve been very competitive in these types of games.”

Riveiro is right. They must continue with that record in the MTN8 this Sunday, despite having an advantage after winning the first leg of their semi 2-1 at Athlone Stadium.

Pirates have lost back-to-back games, having gone down to Sundowns, while they also came unstuck against Jwaneng Galaxy in the first leg of the Caf Champions League group stage qualifiers last Sunday.

And that’s why the 48-yearold coach said they do not only need the win to reach their third successive Cup final in less than a year, but to also get back to winning ways.

“The difference between the Cup games and league games is clear – Sunday is Sunday! There’s nothing else after Sunday for one of the two teams,” Riveiro said.

“We’ll go forward or go home. That’s the thing that changes approaches – it changes everything. Stellenbosch are not coming to Orlando for points, but to try and get to the final.

“It’s a game that we want to win. Even though we are leading, we are not speculating or wanting to play a goalless game. We want to win the game because it’s something that we need to do.”

Riveiro’s ambition to attain a victory instead of going for a cautious approach will augur well for his tactical approach, having been accused of making mistakes recently.

The Spaniard has reiterated that he is not a fan of rotating players, but he went back on his word in the last two games, playing almost two entirely different teams against Galaxy and Sundowns.

He, however, admits that he makes mistakes like any other coach.

“Obviously, we can all make mistakes in this business. If I say I don’t make mistakes, I’ll sound stupid. And that’s not the case, trust me,” Riveiro explained.

“So, we try to minimise the mistakes in the decisions that we make and the way that we plan – knowing that football is still a game of mistakes. It’s a game of mistakes!

“We play with our feet, and not our hands, so it’s difficult to be precise.

“For the coaches, it’s 11 players in a very big space with a lot of things around and games. So, it’s normal to make mistakes!”