Pirates exorcise recent ghosts with Arrows hammering

Sandile Mthethwa of Orlando Pirates scored in a 7-1 rout of Golden Arrows on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Sandile Mthethwa of Orlando Pirates scored in a 7-1 rout of Golden Arrows on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Published Apr 8, 2024



Orlando Pirates have embraced the criticism that has come with being inconsistent, and coach Jose Riveiro has reiterated why they must always be at their best.

Pirates have been their own worst enemy this season, losing games or dropping points that they were expected to collect with ease. That has resulted in them missing out on the Carling Knockout and falling behind in the title race as they trail log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns by 12 points.

Sandile Mthethwa of Orlando Pirates scored in a 7-1 rout of Golden Arrows on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Their clumsiness reached its nadir before Saturday night, having dropped five points after losing to Sekhukhune United and drawing with Moroka Swallows. As expected, that didn’t go down well with The Ghost, with some already calling for the head of Riveiro because their top-two hopes were in jeopardy.

But Riveiro and his team responded to that criticism in style by hammering Golden Arrows 7-1 on Saturday in Orlando to climb to third on the log. It was the perfect result and performance and they will believe again that they can play CAF Champions League football next season.

Relebohile Mofokeng of Orlando Pirates is tackled by Thabani Zuke of Golden Arrows. | BackpagePix

“We really know where we are going and if there are critics because of our results, we’ll accept it,” Riveiro said after the game in Orlando.

“When we are criticised because of our performances, we’ll accept it. We are in a highly competitive environment, and know we’ll be criticised if we don’t win.”

Riveiro is right. They can’t afford to rest on their laurels now, especially with the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals next on their agenda.

Pirates will face AmaZulu for a spot in the Ke Yona Cup semi-finals on Saturday night at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. On top of being the defending champions, they want to win the cup as it comes with a spot in the Confederation Cup next season. But Riveiro knows it won’t be easy.

“But if we are thinking that it’s going to be a piece of cake, and teams are going to fear us, then we are wrong. We need to be mature,” Riveiro said.

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro can plan for the Nedbank Cup without any pressure from The Ghost this week. | BackpagePix

Riveiro has no doubt that his players know there’s a fine line between winning and losing games at this stage of the season as games are coming thick and fast. And while previous performances haven’t yielded the necessary results – hampering their top-two aspirations – Riveiro has never questioned his players’ efforts.

“The players are smart, and they know that when we play well and don’t play well. It’s not related to winning or losing,” Riveiro explained.

“We know our performances against Swallows and Sekhukhune wasn’t a 1-1 or 2-1 performance. We don’t analyse the result but we are judged by the result.

“We don’t dramatise when we don’t get the results, we try to analyse the reasons why we didn’t get the results and we deal with them.”

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Tshegofatso Mabasa starred in Pirates’ revival in Orlando, scoring a hat-trick which saw him become the league’s joint top goalscorer (10) with Lucas Ribeiro. Mabasa’s return to Pirates in January after a loan spell at Sekhukhune United and Swallows has been a huge boost, having scored seven goals since his return.

“Like for any other player, confidence and continuity is key in order to perform,” Riveiro said of Mabasa’s top performances recently.

“So, we are not really fair when we analyse one game of a player. It’s not going to tell you the truth about the player.

“Playing regularly means that the confidence is with you and everyone that’s around. The football form also comes with competition. Tshego has a responsibility, like other players, to help the team. He has the capacity to score goals, like the rest of our strikers.”