Orlando Pirates’ Jose Riveiro hopes Bucs don’t chicken out against Hungry Lions

Orlando Pirates forward Patrick Maswanganyi battles for possesion with Kaizer Chiefs Pule Mmodi during the recent Soweto derby.

Orlando Pirates forward Patrick Maswanganyi battles for possesion with Kaizer Chiefs Pule Mmodi during the recent Soweto derby. Picture: Phill Magakoe / AFP

Published Mar 14, 2024


Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has warned his troops to guard against distractions when they face Hungry Lions in the Nedbank Cup last-16 on Saturday (6pm kick-off).

Pirates are on a high after completing a double over their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the DStv Premiership last weekend, winning 3-2.

The victory ensured that they kept their chances of finishing second in the league alive. They currently hold the coveted spot with 33 points, with leaders Mamelodi Sundowns on 46, with two games in hand.

Pirates will have to ensure that they do not have any derby hangover when they host NFD side Hungry Lions at the Orlando Stadium. After all, Pirates are not in the cup as mere participants, but they are the reigning champions – and a successful defence would see them complete another double.

The Buccaneers have already defended their MTN8 title, so another cup double and second-place finish on the log will crown a decent season for the Soweto outfit.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference at Nedbank Cup ‘Ya Rona House’ yesterday, Riveiro sent a stern warning to his troops after an eventful week.

“One of the problems in cup competitions, for a team like us, it’s distraction. We want to be a good version of ourselves on Saturday,” Riveiro said.

“We need to be focused – distractions after the derby are many. A lot of people, including the media, are still talking about it. It’s normal. But we need to quickly find ourselves … the international break is coming as well, with players going to their national teams.

“There are many factors that can distract us. And when you are distracted, you are unable to compete at your best. So, it’s our responsibility to keep the players on the right track and motivated.”

The international break will see three Bucs players – Patrick Maswanganyi, Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki – report for national duty with Bafana Bafana.

Maswanganyi was a notable inclusion in coach Hugo Broos’ 23-member squad for the Fifa series pilot project, which will be held in Algeria over the next two weeks.

The 25-year-old has been a fan favourite since joining the Sea Robbers’ camp this season, thanks to his trickery and pacy feet. He also has a knack for goal.

However, his naysayers have lambasted Maswanganyi for holding on to the ball for too long, delaying runs into the final third in the process.

Broos, though, has spoken glowingly of Maswanganyi’s improvement in recent matches, having decided against calling him up for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Broos said Maswanganyi’s better form has been aided by the good coaching of Riveiro. The Spaniard, though, doesn’t want to take sole credit for that.

“It’s not only about me as the coach. I think the environment, the players around him, the way we are trying to play has benefited from that,” Riveiro said.

“I don’t like to get the credit for his improvement. Everyone around the players is there to help them get better .If they don’t have the level of confidence which ‘Tito’ has shown in the game, then there’s nothing to do.”