Jose Riveiro: I’m not here to bring Spanish players to Orlando Pirates

Teenager Relebohile Mofokeng has been one of the new young stars shining for Orlando Pirates this season. Photo: BackpagePix

Teenager Relebohile Mofokeng has been one of the new young stars shining for Orlando Pirates this season. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Apr 11, 2024


Jose Riveiro is only a piece in Orlando Pirates’ puzzle, and that’s why he’ll always put the club’s interests first before his or any other ambitions.

After a stellar debut season – winning a cup double and finishing second in the league – Riveiro was expected to build on the momentum by convincing the club to buy players – especially from Europe – that he thought would fit his style of play and take them to new heights.

But that hasn’t been the case. Pirates continued to bolster their squad with only locals, including this season’s wonderkid, Patrick Maswanganyi.

And that’s not all. The arrival of Thalente Mbatha on loan from SuperSport United raised eyebrows, with some questioning whether he was signed by the club or Riveiro.

For a great while, there have been rumours that the top bosses at the club sign the players, looking at the future of the institution, and not the coach.

After all, it’s common knowledge that coaches come and go, and it then becomes a huge process to rebuild again when the incumbent has left the club.

The Spaniard, speaking at the pre-match media conference for Saturday’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final clash against AmaZulu, at Nedbank headquarters in Sandton yesterday, said the Buccaneers will always come first.

“It used to be like that (with coaches signing players). But football now is different in terms of our responsibilities as coaches,” he said.

“The club is much bigger than me. My club, Orlando Pirates, doesn’t need me in that department. I am running a club’s project, it’s not Riveiro’s project.

“I am just one piece of that project. There’s much more around me. I am not here to bring Spanish players, I am here to do something more important.”

And while the general consensus in the room was that Riveiro doesn’t even have a say in those transfer decisions, he was quick to quash that.

“The project is much bigger. There’s no improvising, saying, ‘I think you need this guy from Spain, he’s a good boy and a left- footer’,” he said.

“No! We are not about that. The club knows where it needs to go. I am part of that. The club is not waiting for me to say, ‘This is what you need, I’ll do it for you’.”

Riveiro has driven the club’s project well so far. There’s been an integration of youngsters into the team, while Pirates are on the cusp of another impressive campaign.

Relebohile Mofokeng has been having a dream full season under Riveiro, the 19-year-old touted to win the PSL Young Player of the Season.

And that’s not all. Thabiso Sesane, 23, has also been getting a few minutes under his belt, adding to the cohesion between the developing players and seniors.

“We have to focus on our product and the players that we are producing in our development, though we need to look at other academies,” Riveiro said.

The 48-year-old mentor must couple the integration of youngsters with winning trophies, and that’s why defending the Nedbank Cup becomes paramount as well.

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Pirates have already defended the MTN8, and are still on course to finish second in the DStv Premiership come the end of the season.

But the Ke Yona Cup will take precedence on Saturday afternoon when they’ll visit Usuthu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban for a spot in the semi-finals.

Riveiro knows that it won’t be easy, especially coming up against his countryman, Pablo Franco Martin, who’s eyeing his first trophy in South Africa.

“It’s going to be a complicated one. In this stage of the competition, every team wants to do their best,” the 48-year-old explained.