‘We’re competing with a points machine’: Pirates coach Riveiro on Sundowns

11 April 2024 - 09:14
By Sazi Hadebe
Orlando Pirates coach Jośe Riveiro during a Nedbank Cup press conference at the Nedbank headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Orlando Pirates coach Jośe Riveiro during a Nedbank Cup press conference at the Nedbank headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg on Wednesday.

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has again effectively admitted there is nothing his team can do to catch runaway DStv Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns this season.

Last week Riveiro said his team suffered significant incorrect refereeing decisions eight times in their past eight matches. He said this was a factor in his side's inconsistent results that have put them in doubt of finishing second behind Sundowns as they did last season.

This in a period where Downs have received press attention for appearing to benefit from kind officiating rulings.

Riveiro was not happy with match officiating in Bucs' 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Moroka Swallows last week, before Pirates went on to thrash Lamontville Golden Arrows 7-1 at Orlando Stadium on Saturday to move to third place.

The Buccaneers are 15 points behind Sundowns, who have three matches in hand.

The attention this week shifts back to the Nedbank Cup where Pirates meet AmaZulu in their quarterfinal at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday (6pm).

Riveiro was asked about his team's inconsistency at a Nedbank Cup press conference in Sandton on Wednesday.

“We're getting there,” he responded. “The results are results. Do you want me to analyse why we didn't win against Swallows?

“I told you [the media] it's your part of the business [to tell the public about the match officials], it's not mine.

“We won that game [against Swallows] but for whatever reasons we couldn't put the second goal on the scoresheet. But the performance was there.

“Then we won 7-1 against Arrows and it looked brilliant. But it's just that we were more accurate but it [the performance] was the same. And it was the same against Kaizer Chiefs [Pirates won 3-2] and the same in the previous games.”

Pirates pointed out that in all competitions in 2024, they have lost only once, 2-1 in their away league fixture against Sekhukhune United before their draw against Swallows.

We had a really bad 30 minutes in Polokwane against Sekhukhune. Is that going to dictate where we are at the moment as a team? Not at all. Maybe for you guys [the media], not for us.”

Riveiro challenged the media to put more scrutiny on how Sundowns, who have not lost a league match since September 2 2022 against Tshwane rivals SuperSport United, have managed to remain unbeaten.

The Brazilians stretched their league unbeaten run to 20 matches after beating bottom-placed Cape Town Spurs 1-0 on Tuesday, scoring from a controversially-awarded penalty converted by Lucas Ribeiro.

“We can talk about consistency until the end of our lives but it's not the only thing to talk about. The point is, we're competing with a points machine,” Riveiro said of Sundowns.

“They don't lose. I don't know where we're going to finish this season. Probably we're going to go past that number [Pirates' 54 points last season] — I'm pretty sure we can do it, we can be close.

“But again, you can analyse the reasons why [Sundowns do not lose]. It's your part of the business again. We're trying, we're trying but it's difficult. It's very difficult to get close for many different reasons.