Orlando Pirates’ coach Jose Riveiro proves to be the man for the big occasion

Jose Riveiro, head coach of Orlando Pirates, on the touchline during the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Jose Riveiro, head coach of Orlando Pirates, on the touchline during the Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published Nov 13, 2023


Orlando Pirates’ coach Jose Riveiro has mastered the art of playing intensive matches, and that’s why it was easy for him to get his first Soweto derby win in the league.

A double trophy-winning coach last season, Riveiro’s only blemish was finishing second in the DStv Premiership and losing both derbies in the campaign. However, in his daring bid to make up for lost time in the league – after stuttering recently – Riveiro finally made it third time lucky against their arch-rivals.

Riveiro guided his Pirates team to a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby on Saturday, courtesy of a solitary goal from Evidence Makgopa in the first half. It was a result that lifted Pirates to seventh on the log standings – and nine points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns – and took some of the pressure off Riveiro.

The Spaniard had been enduring a backlash in recent weeks, having failed to make their games in hand in the league count after defending the MTN8 crown.

Preparation makes perfect

But his success in three cup finals have prepared him for this season’s tough matches, including the biggest sporting event in the country, hence they came out tops at the Calabash.

“We are proving ourselves in these types of games – the players are proving themselves when we play the final and big games. We give a good level of competitiveness,” he said.

“These games are like finals, you cannot expect to play good football. Maybe if we manage to score the second goal, you can expect to see something else.”

Riveiro has mastered the art of playing in high-pressure matches like the Soweto derby that he knows will be on the lips of their fans week in, week out.

“It’s a special game, and that’s not a discussion.

“It’s a game that is played before, during and after the final whistle. And it takes one win,” Riveiro said.

“I have not been in contact with a lot of people in my life here in South Africa, but I feel like we are going to play Chiefs when I go to the supermarket or have a coffee.

“Even though we have to play Sekhukhune (United) but the people still ask about Chiefs.

“I can imagine what it means for the players when they are about to play Chiefs.”

Much-needed break

Pirates’ players will take a much-needed break during the Fifa window having captain Riveiro bring calm and stability to the ship that was starting to sink.

And with Downs only set to play their games in hand after the break having been busy with continental football recently, Pirates will hope that they will drop points.

Riveiro, though, doesn’t want his troops to think about any football-related activities in the next few weeks, having had a taxing schedule in the past few days.

“(They must get) rest! Rest! I repeat myself. We played seven games in 22 days,” Riveiro added his post-match media conference in the FNB Stadium auditorium.

“I don’t mean resting and being on a sofa, they must rest mentally. They must think about something else that’s not football related).

“We didn’t stop and we had one day off in 22 days, and we came here today – with the expectations of a derby – and they performed the way they did.”