Jose Riveiro warns Orlando Pirates: Be ready for different scenarios

Jose Riveiro wants Orlando Pirates to create more ‘beautiful memories’ in the Nedbank Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Jose Riveiro wants Orlando Pirates to create more ‘beautiful memories’ in the Nedbank Cup. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Feb 23, 2024


Jose Riveiro has warned his troops not to think that the game is over before its starts when they begin their Nedbank Cup defence against minnows Crystal Lake tomorrow afternoon.

Orlando Pirates were knockout specialists last season. They won the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup in Riveiro’s first season in charge of the team.

They were tipped to take that up a notch this term and challenge for all four trophies, including the DStv Premiership and inaugural Carling Knockout Cup.

And boy did they get off to a flying start, defending the MTN8 against perennial league champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

But that proved to be a false start. Pirates stuttered in their bid to knock Sundowns off their perch in the league, while they crashed out in the Carling quarter-final.

Not all is dark and gloomy for Pirates, though. They could still save their season by repeating last term’s efforts: finishing second in the league and winning a cup double.

The league is a marathon, though. So, having won the MTN8, they are now eyeing the Nedbank Cup to complete the cup double.

But that sprint won’t come easily as well. They’ll have to first navigate the hurdle presented by Safa Mpumalanga Regional Division side Crystal Lake at Mbombela Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off).

Riveiro, speaking at the pre-match media conference at the PSL offices in Parktown yesterday, said they want to relive the memories of last season in the competition.

“We are hard workers ... That’s why we manage to get trophies. There’s nothing else besides that, and we want to repeat the same (feat) this season,” he said.

“When I think about this competition, I can only think about beautiful memories in all the games we played – extraordinary memories in the semi-final and final.

“So, we want to be there again. But the way to do that is to win every game in the competition. This is a knockout game, and not the league.”

On paper, Pirates are the favourites against Crystal Lake, given the gulf in history between the teams and quality at their disposal.

However, the 51-year-old Spanish-born coach has been around the block long enough to know that matches are not won on paper, but on the pitch.

After all, this is the premium cup football competition in the land, and that’s where dreams are fulfilled. Hence the competition lives by the ‘David versus Goliath’ mantra.

“If you are relaxed, you’ll crash out. History is full of these types of games. When you think everything is done before the game starts is the most difficult in sport,” Riveiro said.

“Surprises and nice history always happen for these types of games. We want to take it seriously; we are going to play one team which will show it wants to win as well.”

Pirates only learnt of their opponents early in the week.

For some time, the Safa Mpumalanga regional play-off champions were yet to be decided, apparently due to maladministration in the region.

So, having prepared thoroughly for Sundowns last week amid the resumption of the league, Pirates will have to change their approach for tomorrow’s tie.

“The information we have about them is very short. We must be prepared for different scenarios. It’s totally different to what we faced a week ago,” Riveiro said.

“We played a team that we knew very well in structure and had a clear way of play. This week will be a challenge. We’ll have to make it difficult for the opponent to cope.

“That’ll be the intention more than thinking of the approach they can develop against us. We’ll give them respect – that’s why we are going with our best approach.”