Pirates coach Riveiro braced for ‘cup finals’ against TS Galaxy, SuperSport

14 May 2024 - 10:42
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro during the DStv Premiership match against Chippa United.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro during the DStv Premiership match against Chippa United.

As the two-horse race for second spot goes to the wire, Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has described their remaining two league matches against TS Galaxy and SuperSport United as “cup finals”. 

The Buccaneers take on TS Galaxy at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday and wrap up their campaign against SuperSport next weekend at Orlando Stadium. 

As things stand, Pirates' fate is not in their own hands as second-placed Stellenbosch have a one-point advantage and will qualify for the Champions League if they win their remaining matches against Mamelodi Sundowns and Richards Bay. 

The Buccaneers slipped up with a 1-0 home defeat against Bay this weekend as they were unable to capitalise on Stellies losing 2-0 away to Moroka Swallows in an earlier game on Saturday.

In fact, Pirates have three “cup finals” ahead of them as they have booked their place in the last match of the Nedbank Cup against Sundowns at Mbombela Stadium on June 1. 

“We lost one final against Richards Bay [on Saturday] and we have another final on Saturday in Mbombela against TS Galaxy and another one here at Orlando Stadium against SuperSport United,” Riveiro said. 

“We are playing for something really important for the club [the Champions League] and we have to give our all. There are a lot of things we need to improve from our match against Richards Bay but the attitude and the desire to get the three points was there and that’s the most important thing. 

“Now we are going to another final and we are going to do the same in desire and attitude, we know we are playing for something big. We want to be in the Champions League next season, but now Stellenbosch is in that place. 

“We want to get there and we know that to do it, all of us have to run the extra mile. This includes the technical team, players and everybody involved. That’s the only way to make it possible.” 

While Riveiro is under pressure to qualify for the Champions League, Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker said theirs has been a campaign beyond expectations regardless of what happens in their remaining matches. 

“If you had told me at the beginning of the season we would be in every semifinal the league offered, won a trophy and finish third in the league, I would probably not have believed you,” said Barker, who has tuned Stellenbosch into a well-oiled machine that won the Carling Knockout in November. 

“Regardless of whether we finish second or third, it will be a fantastic season for us. I forgot to mention we played in every match this season except for the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup finals. 

“By the time the league ends we would have played 41 matches. It is a bit uncommon for us but it is a good precursor to what lies ahead in the Champions League or Confederation Cup. 

“One learns from these situations and we will do our homework, speak to clubs that have been there [in continental football] and had that challenge. We will prepare ourselves appropriately to mitigate any challenges on our way.” 

Stellies and Pirates are guaranteed at least a place in the Caf Confederation Cup if they finish third.