Orlando Pirates embracing the favourites tag ahead of their opening Carling Knockout game

Jose Riveiro says his team have accepted their favourites tag. Photo: BackpagePix

Jose Riveiro says his team have accepted their favourites tag. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Oct 19, 2023


Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has embraced the fact that his side are earmarked as the “favourites” to lift the inaugural Carling Knockout Cup.

The Buccaneers begin their quest for the title against Cape Town Spurs tomorrow night (kick-off 7.30pm) at Orlando Stadium, looking to carry their momentum from their MTN8 triumph two weeks ago.

The Sea Robbers overcame Mamelodi Sundowns to defend their MTN8 title, ensuring the club made it three out of three cup successes since Riveiro’s arrival.

Under the guidance of the wily Spaniard, Pirates have lifted the Wafa Wafa Cup trophy twice, as well as last season’s Nedbank Cup.

When quizzed about whether the club’s recent success places the odds in their favour, Riveiro was quick to accept the assumption – but stated it was not due to his arrival but rather the magnitude of a club like Pirates.

“I don’t think it’s based on what we achieved in the recent past. It’s because we are Orlando Pirates, so every time we go into any competition, we have to accept that we are one of the favourites,” Riveiro said during a press conference in Johannesburg yesterday.

“It’s a normal thing. We just have to get it in the right way and accept it.

“It’s nice to be in a team that gives you the possibility to really fight and really dream about being the winning team in the end. I don’t think it’s because we managed to succeed in the last three finals we found ourselves in.”

The Buccaneers’ successful MTN8 campaign has coincided with a shaky start to the DStv Premiership season, as well as huge disappointment in the CAF Champions League.

Pirates were knocked out of the continental club competition by Botswana side Jwaneng Galaxy in the preliminary rounds.

Riveiro’s men also sit a mere point above the league relegation zone with seven points, although they have played three less games than the log-leading Sundowns.

However, the 43-year-old mentor believes their recent success will have a huge psychological impact in determining how they proceed for the rest of the season.

“Winning a final early in the season is obviously a boost for us in terms of confidence and to know ourselves a little bit better,” he expressed.

“It’s also good for us to understand that when the game competition asks us to be at our best, then we can do it. And in that version, we are a difficult team for everybody – and that’s what we’ll be looking to do on Friday as well.”

Pirates’ last encounter against Spurs was in 2018, when they were known as Ajax Cape Town.

While many expect the encounter to be routine for Pirates, Urban Warriors interim head coach Vasili Manousakis will hope to break the club’s treacherous eight-game losing streak, which led to Shaun Bartlett being let go.