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Will Orlando Pirates’ new coach Jose’ Riveiro follow the PSL’s foreign legion success?

Published Jun 29, 2022


Cape Town - The celebrated Orlando Pirates FC which has won only one trophy in the past seven seasons have brought in a three-man Spanish technical team, headed by coach Jose Riveiro, in a desperate attempt to restore the club to its glory.

Riveiro has added fellow Spaniards Sergio Almenara (assistant coach) and Miguel Bellver Esteve (fitness trainer) to his backroom staff. He becomes only the second Spaniard to coach in South Africa's PSL competition after Antonio López Habas spent four years in South Africa, coaching Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits (2009-2013).

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Riveiro is the latest in the line of foreign head coaches, many of whom have coached with great success at the PSL's 'Big Three'.

The German Josef Zinnbauer was the last Pirates coach to win a trophy after he ended a six-year barren spell by winning the MTN8 Trophy in 2020. He resigned at the start of the 2021 season.

Vladimir Vermezović, a Serbian, won the 2014 Nedbank Cup as a Pirates coach. Before him, the well-travelled Romanian Ted Dumitru led the club to a BP Top 8 trophy in 2000.

Dumitru was far more successful when at the helm at Kaizer Chiefs. During his second stint there (2003-05), he won two back-to-back Premiership titles and two consecutive Coca-Cola Cup trophies.

Dumitru also coached Sundowns, where he won the Premiership twice (1997–98, 1998–99). In successive seasons he won the Nedbank Cup (1998) and the Rothmans Cup (1999). In the 2001 season, he guided Sundowns to a CAF Champions League final but lost to Al Ah,ly of Egypt.

The Turkish coach Muhsin Ertugral was even more successful at Chiefs during his two stints at Chiefs. In his first stint (1999-02) he won all domestic competitions except the league. He also won the African Cup Winners’ Cup (now named the CAf Confederation Cup.

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During his second stint (2007-09) he lifted the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout titles.

Another Serbian Paul Dolezar has had success at Chiefs, Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic. At Chiefs, he won back-to-back Rothmans Cup titles (1997 and 1998).

After moving on to Sundowns, he won the Rothmans Cup title again (1999) and the 1999 Castle League championship.

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A few years later in 2005, Dolezar remarkably won the SAA Super 8 cup with Bloemfontein Celtic. It was the first time in 20 years that Celtic won silverware in the PSL era.

There are a host of other foreigners who have won honours with PSL clubs.

Soon after making the Riveiro announcement, Pirates confirmed their latest signings after they underwent routine medical tests. They are Tapelo Xoki (AmaZulu) and Nkosinathi Sibisi (Golden Arrows), Evidence Makgopa (Baroka FC), Bienvenu Eva Nga and Azola Matrose (both Chippa United), Miguel Timm (Marumo Gallants).

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Riveiro’s appointment came as a shock to the Pirates fans, who were expecting one of the local coaches to get the nod. The Spaniard was last active in a league in Finland, where he coached FC International Turku.


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