Jose Riveiro wants Monnapule Saleng and Terrence Dzvukamanja to maintain form against Sundowns

FILE - Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

FILE - Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Feb 3, 2023


Johannesburg — Orlando Pirates’ resurgence in recent weeks has come with headaches for coach Jose Riveiro who’s had to tread carefully with his selection criteria.

Inheriting a squad of 36 players in a new league could be regarded as a luxury by outsiders, but it’s been a bit complicated for Riveiro.

Before the Spaniard could even think about winning matches, he had to ensure that his players adhered to his approach and philosophy. He had to give all the players a fair chance to impress him, and avoid selecting players on fear or favour based on previous performances.

“We live in a competitive environment. Not only when we go to matches, people need to understand that,” the Sea Robbers coach explained.

“The players come every morning hungry to train well, express themselves on the field and prepare to understand the needs of the week and game.”

And having to select players on merit rather than popularity hasn’t been easy for Riveiro, as he won’t be able to please everyone, including the fans.

“Being a coach is not that easy by just selecting the best players. You have to select the ones that you consider the best one to win a game,” he said.

Having assessed everyone with a sober mind, Riveiro unleashed warriors who potentially saved his job since the start of the campaign in August.

Monnapule Saleng was close to being sent back on loan at the start of the term before he got a rare start against Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8.

The 24-year-old grabbed the opportunity and helped Pirates win the MTN8, while he’s been one of their standout performers this term.

In recent weeks Riveiro gave a chance to Terrence Dzvukamanja, who was also rumoured to want out of the club, and the striker delivered.

“But like I said, I am a lucky coach with a squad full of talent and possibilities. The players are not machines, they go through different stages,” Riveiro said.

“When we gave Monnapule a chance to come in, it wasn’t like we tossed to see what would happen. We knew that the boy was prepared for that feat.

“We know the competition, and that things might not go the way we expect. And with Terrence, it was the same. He was doing the things well at training.”

Saleng and Dzvukamanja have been pivotal to Pirates bagging three wins in a row to put up a challenge for a top two finish.

And that’s why the duo are expected to lead the line when Pirates welcome runaway champions Sundowns to the Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Sundowns head into this tie as favourites, having won their last 14 league games on the trot and extending their lead to 21 points at the top of the pile.

But Pirates, who lost the reverse fixture 2-0 late last year, want to make up for lost time and exercise the advantage of playing at home.

“There’s nothing special to do. We are playing at home and we want to be the one that decides the type of game that we want to see,” Riveiro said.

“I don’t have anything against the goals as long as it’s my team that’s scoring as much as possible. I think it’s going to be an open game — not boring at all.

“There’s nothing special — although both teams are big. The preparations of the game won't be different. We’ll look at details that can help us in the end."


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