Derby win blows fresh wind into Pirates’ sails

Coach of Orlando Pirates Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

Coach of Orlando Pirates Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 11, 2024


Coach of Orlando Pirates Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix


Jose Riveiro was pleased with his team’s performance in the Soweto derby, saying they must always refer back to it in an effort to close the gap between their best and worst versions of themselves.

Orlando Pirates were crowned the Kings of Soweto this season after completing a league double over their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the DStv Premiership. The Bucs beat Chiefs 1-0 in the first instalment of the derby last year, before winning the reverse 3-2 at a sold-out FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Sea Robbers’ triumph didn’t only hand the The Ghost bragging rights, but also keeps the club’s chances of finishing the season on a high alive and well. Pirates are where they want to be in the league – in second spot, holding the position which guarantees CAF Champions League football next season.

Moreover, their performance against Chiefs was full of grit and determination as they came from behind twice to win the match. On a handful of occasions in the first half of the season, they had failed to show that side of their game, dropping points unnecessarily.

So, what stops them from being menacing at all times?

“I would like to have an answer to that question, to be honest,” said Riveiro after his team’s victory. “This is the version of Pirates that we would all like to see in each game, understanding that we are not perfect in the end.

“We need to ensure that our best version is close to our worst. That's showing excellence in whatever you do. And football is not an exception.

“I would like to have the exact answer for that, but we need to keep analysing … I think we need to capitalise on this victory and understand the team we want to be.”

Souaibou Marou of Orlando Pirates bursts past the challenges of Kaizer Chiefs’ Dillan Solomons in their DStv Premiership clash on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Pirates are nowhere near the team they want to be, having all but relinquished hopes of closing the gap between them and runaway champions Mamelodi Sundowns. But qualifying for the Champions League could salvage their league season, given that this remains the premier football showcase on the continent.

Pirates, after all, wish to return to the competition and win their second African crown after winning the 1995 edition.

“It’s a competition where the club can only get more prestige and we can be able to test ourselves against clubs from other countries,” Riveiro explained.

“We’ll play different types of football and accumulate experience as a group that will help us to be the team that we want to be in the future. There’s still a long way to go and there are other teams who are fighting for the same objective as us. It’s going to be tough.”

Thabiso Lebitso of Orlando Pirates scored the winning goal against Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby. | BackpagePix

Pirates’ downfall in recent matches has been the failure to kill off opponents. They led against SuperSport United and Stellenbosch late last year but ended up losing.

That shortcoming followed them in the derby dress rehearsal in a 1-1 draw with Cape Town Spurs at home after taking the lead. If they had been ruthless in those games, the gap at the top might have been only four points, regardless of Sundowns having three games in hand.

“I think the points we lost in the last stages were not for the same reasons,” Riveiro explained. “It’s easy to say we were not focused, but no, it’s never the same reason. I could say to you it’s lapse of concentration in the last minutes but there are a lot of reasons that we need to work on as a team.”