Pirates expect ‘difficult’ match against Usuthu

Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 20, 2024


Smiso Msomi

Orlando Pirates head coach Jose Riveiro anticipates a difficult quarter-final in the Nedbank Cup after drawing what he described as an ‘awkward’ AmaZulu outfit.

The Sea Robbers will take their defence of the Ke Yona trophy to the football-loving province of KwaZulu-Natal as they look to topple AmaZulu in their own backyard. Since he arrived in South Africa, Riveiro has established himself as somewhat of a cup specialist having claimed three major trophies in his one-and-a-half seasons in charge of Pirates.

Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

Looking to halt his hot streak is fellow Spanish mentor Pablo Franco Martin, who has taken to life and his position of head coach in Durban well. Having already met once in the DStv Premiership this season, Martin will hope his side can frustrate the much-fancied Bucanneers when the two teams meet.

Riveiro reacted to the quarter-final draw on Monday.

“Well, (we expect) a difficult one,” he said. “What can I say at this stage of the tournament? There’s not an easy opponent. We have played once already with AmaZulu, a 0-0 in Durban.

“They are a well-organised team. It’s difficult to play well against them, if you see their games. Nobody’s playing really well when they play AmaZulu, and that’s because of the work that they are doing, so we know what’s coming, but we will prepare for that then.”

Riveiro and Pirates have been very successful in Durban recently, having claimed back-to-back MTN8 titles – against AmaZulu in 2022 and Sundowns last year – at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Orlando Pirates where drawn as the away team to face AmaZulu in the Nedbank Cup. | BackpagePix

The force of the 12th man has proven vital for Pirates in Durban for decades now, with the noise at the stadiums only eclipsed by the Orlando Stadium or the FNB calabash on Soweto derby day.

Riveiro revealed his joy at being able to travel to the city once more for this encounter as he expects Pirates fans to pack the the 70 000-seater stadium to the rafters.

“Travelling to Durban, always, if we have to travel or when we have to travel, is good news for us. There will be a lot of Pirates fans happy with the draw and ready to come there in numbers and create a proper atmosphere for a knockout game … and when the time is coming to be there, we will be more than prepared.”

Pirates have eased their way past lower division sides in the opening two rounds of the competition, having thumped ABC Motsepe League side Crystal Lake before seeing off second division team Hungry Lions.

And now the Soweto giants receive their first stern test in the form of Usuthu, who are looking to end their 33-year trophy drought.