There’s more to Mabasa than goals – Riveiro

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 19, 2024



Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has lauded the contribution of striker Tshegofatso Mabasa even though he feels he can still improve in some areas.

Mabasa rejoined the Sea Robbers for the second half of the season after an 18-month loan spell between Sekhukhune United and Moroka Swallows.

Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Since his return, the 27-year-old has scored three goals in back-to-back Nedbank Cup matches to help guide Pirates closer to their title defence as they are in the quarter-finals.

Pirates lacked a lethal poacher before Mabasa’s return, as Zakhele Lepasa and Evidence Makgopa blew hot and cold. Lepasa started the season like a house on fire, but that flame died out.

Makgopa repaid the coach with some crucial goals, including the winning goal in the first leg of the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs. But the two players, combined, do not match Mabasa. On top of being lethal, Mabasa can hold up play and is slick on the ball as well.

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

“What I can tell you is, (he is) what we are looking for in that position,” Riveiro said.

“He fits well, he’s a striker that can help us to play better. Not only (his finishing), we all know what ‘Tshego’ can do in the box, he’s quality, he’s tiny in the air, he’s very complete, as close to the box as possible.

“But he’s also improving his play far from the box, it’s also giving us a lot of things, improving himself and the team. Like I said, he is a striker – but we don’t only see the number nine as a player to just finalise the action in the box and that’s it.”

While Riveiro believes that Mabasa is improving the team, he feels that he can further help the squad and feed off their attacking players.

Morena Monaheng of Hungry Lions challenged by Relebohile Mofokeng of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Relebohile Mofokeng, Patrick Maswanganyi and Monnapule Saleng are possession-based players, dancing their way into the final third with trickery and flair. Given those similar qualities, it seemed improbable for Riveiro to start them in one match until the Soweto derby two weeks ago.

The trio mesmerised arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs and took that up a notch as they played a starring role in Pirates’ 4-0 win over Hungry Lions over the weekend. That win over Lions in the Nedbank Cup last 16 saw Mabasa rack up a brace.

“He is a player that needs to help us to play better,” said Riveiro before alluding to the importance of the other attacking players.

“(He needs) to play the football that we want to play, to be in contact with the ball, to dominate the central line of the field, to create the spaces for our three number 10s.

“And Tshego, so far, is doing well. And good for him, good for the team, he is also finding the back of the net, which is also obviously very important for a number nine.”