Johannesburg - Jose Riveiro has embraced the pressure that comes with leading Orlando Pirates back to the top of local football and putting a smile back on the face of the Ghost - as their fans are known.
It’s been 10 years since the Sea Robbers’ ship sailed to the steady waters of winning the league title, having watched their bitter rivals with envy over the years.
Kaizer Chiefs were crowned the local kings twice between 2013 and 2015, while Mamelodi Sundowns have won the title seven times from 2014.
Since their fall from grace, Pirates have appointed a host of coaches to steer their ship – including African renowned coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.
But with neither of the handful of the appointments they’ve made failing to deliver on the mandate, they’ve now handed the baton over to Riveiro.
The 46-year-old Spaniard is a relatively unknown figure in African football circles, having his career spanned across Europe, particularly Finland.
But Riveiro has fast-tracked his adaptation process, learning all there is to know about the culture and success story of the 1995 African champions.
Speaking at the side-lines of the 2022/2023 DStv Premiership launch at SuperSport studios on Thursday, Riveiro says he's privileged to coach Pirates.
“It’s like pressure. It’s something that we like. As coaches we are not thinking about what’s going to happen if we don’t win,” Riveiro said on making an impact at the club.
“We enjoy the pressure that comes with the millions of people coming to the stadium and watching from home. It’s a big responsibility, of course, but it makes us privileged.”
To hasten the adaptation of Riveiro at the club, the management retained Mandla Ncikazi as his assistant alongside his countryman Sergio Almenara.
Last season, Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids, who were interim co-coaches after the resignation of Josef Zinnbauer, led the team to a trophy-less campaign.
That had consequences as Davids’ contract wasn’t renewed at the end of June, while Ncikazi was demoted back to his assistant coaching role.
Riveiro, though, has waxed lyrical about the impact that Ncikazi has had in his adaptation process, calling him a ‘’valuable” member of the technical team.
“Mandla is valuable and active in our coaching staff. He’s going to bring a lot of experience and knowledge about the league, players and other coaches,” he said.
“We are learning with him as well. He’s an important part of the quick process that we are trying to do in order to prepare for the upcoming season.”
Pirates will begin their league season against rivals Swallows in the Original Soweto derby at Orlando Stadium on Saturday August 6.
They need to get a win there to set a tone for the rest of the season. A feat that will also introduce Riveiro to the fans for the first time since his appointment.
Already there’ve been Riveiro’s naysayers from the Ghost who are already calling him a plumber (a European cheap export who’ll fail in the Premier Soccer League).
“Those are things that I can’t control. I try to focus on my plans, understanding of the game, and methodology,” Riveiro said on the name calling.
“I hope that those fans (who’ve been calling me a plumber) will change their opinions about me soon!”