Why Jose Riveiro needs derby win to ease Orlando Pirates’ worries

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro on the touchline.

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro is looking for a third win over Kaizer Chiefs this season. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Media

Published Mar 7, 2024


The Soweto derby clash between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will take centre stage once more at the weekend, with various narratives emanating from the two teams.

The Buccaneers will be targeting an unprecedented league double over their arch-rivals Amakhosi, and a third win over the same opponents in all competitions this season.

Steering the Sea Robbers’ ship is the nonchalant figure of head coach Jose Riveiro, who was instrumental in Pirates ending a four-game losing streak against Chiefs last year.

It was in the Nedbank Cup where the Spaniard broke that spell, a tournament in which he guided the club to glory. That was the second of two trophies he claimed in his first season in South Africa.

Fast forward to 2023/2024, and the 48-year-old added a third piece of silverware to his Pirates CV as he helped the club defend the MTN8.

Since then, it has been nothing but inconsistency, criticism and variously construed cries for him to somehow construct consecutive victories and catch up to the indomitable Mamelodi Sundowns.

Pirates again flattered to deceive against Cape Town Spurs on Wednesday evening, when they played to a 1-1 draw against the relegation candidates.

To the surprise of many, Pirates are over 10 points behind the Brazilians – having played two more games – and look nothing like a side fit to challenge for the league title.

As the tensions continue to build in Soweto for both Chiefs and Pirates, under the weight of expectation of a return to familiar heights, the Soweto derby provides the perfect opportunity for either side to push their agendas.

Riveiro, in particular, will be eager to regain the trust of all Pirates supporters ahead of what is expected to be an anxiety-filled end to the season.

While interim Amakhosi coach Cavin Johnson will be raring to get revenge for losing his one and only derby game in the first round, it is Riveiro’s future that needs it more.

The mere fact that Johnson was appointed on an interim basis suggests Chiefs are already drawing up a list of candidates to take over the role permanently next season.

However, for Riveiro, a win against the Buccaneers’ fiercest enemies not only gives them the edge in securing a CAF Champions League spot, but will also endear him to the club’s fans.

Former Glamour Boys coach Stuart Baxter was axed from the Amakhosi outfit in an ‘ugly’ fashion in his second stint at the club, but remains a huge part of the club’s history, given his derby record.

Baxter suffered just one loss and steered Chiefs to four wins over Pirates over two stints, while the other five matches ended in draws.

Under Baxter’s watch, Chiefs scored nine goals in the 10 games against Pirates, while they conceded just five to demonstrate their dominance, something Riveiro could establish as well to avoid the chop.

Having scored three goals in the last two encounters between the two giants, Pirates will be heading into this game as the favourites.

However, Riveiro will require imagination to break through a Chiefs team that has kept six clean sheets in seven games.