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Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro proves he’s no ‘plumber’

Jose Riveiro celebrates Orlando Pirates Nedbank Cup victory.

Jose Riveiro celebrates Orlando Pirates Nedbank Cup victory. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published May 29, 2023


Johannesburg - Jose Riveiro is a team player personified, crediting the success that Orlando Pirates have amassed this season to the collective rather than his impact.

A relatively unknown figure when he landed in South Africa, few to no one believed that Riveiro would be successful in just his first season in charge.

But such was his focus on the project, Riveiro ensured that Pirates bagged three honours – the MTN8, second-place finish in the Premiership and Nedbank Cup – to show for their efforts this season.

It wasn’t only a campaign of restoration after not winning a trophy last term, but also justification why some of the players and coaches deserved to represent the club.

Monnapule Saleng repaid the faith shown in him by Riveiro, who decided against loaning him out for a second successive season, by playing a starring role in Pirates’ success this term.

Mandla Ncikazi didn’t sulk and moan after he was demoted as Riveiro’s second assistant, instead he helped the Spaniard and ensured he seamlessly adapted at the club.

And that’s why Riveiro cut an emotional figure during his postmatch press conference after Pirates beat Sekhukhune United 2-1 in the Nedbank Cup final on Saturday, crediting the team effort instead of taking sole praise.

“You give me too much importance, I think,” Riveiro said of suggestions that he solely turned Pirates’ fortunes around.

“We did it. We have a fantastic group (of players). We have the resources as well.

“I am sounding like I am repeating myself but it’s the truth. I am just coming here to talk, and I am probably popular on the streets after 10-11 months here.

“We are a team. I am always going to emphasise about this because it’s the thing that’s going to help us in the future. So, thank you to my players and coaching staff.”

And with the season not entirely perfect after losing out on the league title, Pirates are already casting their eye on season as they want to ensure they don’t leave any stone unturned.

Of course, it won’t be easy. But the fact that they played every single match of the season on the domestic front after a whopping number of training sessions, they can surely build on that going forward.

“We finished today with 39 official games and after 223 training sessions in 11 months. So, it was not by chance (that we achieved) what we did or because of me,” Riveiro said.

“It’s because we are committed, and we are trying to do our best. We have bad days and better days, but we are competitive, and we are going to be even more.”

Pirates’ triumph on Saturday – delivered by goals from Tapelo Xoki and Terrence Dzvukamanja – was sweeter that it happened at the home of league champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

And while that could be an indirect message about their ambitions to knock Sundowns off their perch next season, Riveiro knows that won’t be handed on a silver platter.

“Next season we are going to try again. Everyone will start with zero points – 0-0 – in every competition. We’ll try to do things differently in every competition,” Riveiro said.

“If we do the same things, we are not going to get the same results as this season. We need to move forward because every team is going to move forward as well.

“They are going to try and get better, and we can’t be an exception. We can’t be thinking that now we are double champions, everything next season is going to be a bed of roses."