Orlando Pirates getting there on attack, says Jose Riveiro

Orlando Pirates are seemingly finding their direction on attack, led by the return to form of Monnapule Saleng. Photo: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates are seemingly finding their direction on attack, led by the return to form of Monnapule Saleng. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 25, 2024


Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has placed his side’s hopes for a rip-roaring second half of the 2023/2024 season in his developing attacking firepower up front.

The Buccaneers have not lived up to their pre-season billing, with Spanish-born coach expected to challenge to Mamelodi Sundowns’ dominance in the league in his second season.

Although the Sea Robbers have collected three major trophies in the past season-and-a-half, they have fallen short of stringing together a good enough run to win their first league title in 12 years, their last one coming under Augusto Palacios in 2012.

Pirates have kicked off 2024 in impressive style by winning four of their six fixtures across all competitions, while drawing the other two. Riveiro’s men have also scored 15 goals in that period, signs of a side rejuvenated in the new year.

Having been left frustrated on several occasions in the first half of the season – drawing four of their 16 matches before the break and losing five – Pirates are seemingly finally finding their direction, led by the return to form of Monnapule Saleng.

Attacker Saleng was named the 2022/2023 Players’ Player of the Year after registering 26 goal involvements (15 goals and 11 assists) in 30 games for Pirates, but has been a shadow of that man this season.

The 26-year-old South African international has been restricted to just five goals and a single assist so far in his 20 appearances, frequently coming off the bench.

Pirates also decided to recall Tshegofatso Mabasa from his loan spell at Moroka Swallows, having been immense in the first half of the season with the Dube Birds.

Riveiro believes his resurgent attacking line may be the key to replicating last season’s final-round form, where they went on to win 11, draw two and lose just two of the final 15 games of the season.

“We’re in a similar situation as one year ago. I think a year ago, in the second half of the season, we managed to be the best team in the second half in terms of numbers, and right now it’s early to say, but we’re getting there,” he said.

“One of the reasons is we have more than one or two players in a good moment (of form) up front in our front four, the same as one year ago.

“Obviously, with the quality we have in the squad, when you manage to have three, four, five players in a good moment, the team will feel it positively – one of the reasons, little by little, we’re getting more solid in terms of replicating performances.”

Pirates will return to action with a difficult trip to in-form Sekhukhune United on Saturday at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, as they look to cement their grip on second place in the DStv Premiership.