‘Chemistry’ must spark Orlando Pirates against AmaZulu

Patrick Maswanganyi (second from left) celebrates one of his two goals for Orlando Pirates against AmaZulu last week, and will hope for a repeat tomorrow. Photo: BackpagePix

Patrick Maswanganyi (second from left) celebrates one of his two goals for Orlando Pirates against AmaZulu last week, and will hope for a repeat tomorrow. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 19, 2024


The second successive – and final – battle of the season between Spanish duo Jose Riveiro and Pablo Franco Martin is set to produce the same old fireworks tomorrow night (5.30pm kick-off).

Riveiro and Martin traded blows in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final last Saturday, and it was the former that landed the sucker punch.

Riveiro’s Orlando Pirates beat Martin’s AmaZulu 4-2 at Moses Mabhida Stadium as they progressed to the Ke Yona Cup semis, where they’ll face Chippa United.

In-form striker Patrick Maswanganyi opened the Buccaneers’ account with a 46th-minute penalty and added a second goal in stoppage time, and will look for another strike to sweep past Usuthu tomorrow.

But while Riveiro won that fight, Martin wasn’t entirely pleased with the officiating, lamenting in the aftermath that his team were robbed of the victory.

Martin will get a chance for revenge when he crosses paths with Riveiro for the second time in a week in the DStv Premiership clash at Orlando Stadium tomorrow.

This will be a rematch that both Riveiro and Martin will want to win at all costs, as it will go a long way in aiding their aspirations in the league.

The third-placed Pirates, who have 37 points, are aiming to finish second on the log – and qualify for CAF Champions League football next season.

Usuthu, on the other hand, want to break into the top eight as they are currently 12th in the standings, two points behind the eighth-placed Kaizer Chiefs.

Speaking after the loss to Pirates last week, Martin said no one will hold back between him and Riveiro when they meet in the final battle.

“We are going to try to get better and better at everything, and take advantage of the training sessions that we have ahead of us,” he said at the time.

“We are going to try and keep this mentality and fight for every single point. It’s unfortunate that the result does not match our performances.

“I am not only talking about our success or mistakes ... We know what we are going to expect in the next game (against Pirates).

“We are probably going to expect the same situations, and from there it’s going to be a football game and other things, so it’s going to be tough.”

Riveiro and Martin have both dealt with incidents of poor refereeing, which has since consumed the spectacle of the run-in.

Riveiro was unhappy about the officiating when Pirates dropped five points against Sekhukhune United and Moroka Swallows, before hammering Golden Arrows 7-1.

And while he established that they needed to create their own luck – sticking to their game plan and principles – AmaZulu boss Martin is still trying to find answers.

“To be honest, I don’t even know,” said Martin, when he was asked what they need to do to thrive despite the referees’ mistakes.

“These guys are mentally strong. They’ve shown that they understand the DNA of AmaZulu, and this season was going to be about fighting till the last whistle.

“They can overcome unbelievable situations. We are talking about some factors that have played a role in deciding games.”

The mentality of Usuthu’s players must be sharper tomorrow as they might have to deal with the refereeing and the buzzing Orlando filled by ‘The Ghost’.

Pirates’ supporters dominated at Moses Mabhida over the weekend, creating a euphoric atmosphere that spurred their team to another cup semi-final.

— Orlando Pirates (@orlandopirates) April 17, 2024

Riveiro has asked their 12th man to continue rallying behind the team, vowing that they’ll always do their best to keep them entertained and ‘Happy People’.

“These are memorable games and moments for all of us. If we offer good games, results and entertainment, I think our fans will always be there,” he said.

“Even when that doesn’t happen, they are still there. But we want to make them happy – play good football, so that we can have that chemistry.”