Riveiro feels fight for second will go down to wire

Simphiwe Mcineka, left, of Ricahrds Bay and Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates feel the ecstasy and misery after the Natal Rich Boyz beat the Bucs 1-0 on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Simphiwe Mcineka, left, of Ricahrds Bay and Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates feel the ecstasy and misery after the Natal Rich Boyz beat the Bucs 1-0 on Saturday. | BackpagePix

Published May 13, 2024



Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro believes the battle for second in the DStv Premiership will go down to the wire.

As such, the Spaniard didn’t drown in self-pity after the Sea Robbers failed to leapfrog Stellenbosch and claim the coveted position on Saturday night. Pirates, incredibly, lost 1-0 to Richards Bay at home, Orlando, as they remained third on the log with 49 points, one behind Stellies.

Richards Bay goalkeeper Salim Magoola made sure that Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates was nullified during their clash this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Going into the game, the odds favoured the Bucs to temporarily move up to the promised land, after Stellies shockingly lost 2-0 to Moroka Swallows earlier. But it wasn’t to be.

Sanele Barns’s solo goal didn’t only end Pirates’ seven-game winning streak, but ensured Bay reached an unassailable 27 points in the relegation battle.

The result was disappointing for Pirates, who handed the advantage back to Stellies, but all is not lost.

“It’s a defeat that’s not going to affect us at all,” Riveiro said.

“We had a chance to take full control of the situation, but we didn’t. But we still have two more games to go in the league and, I think, like I said a week ago, it’s going to be decided in the last game of the season.”

Riveiro has ample reason to believe that they – and not Stellies – will be the team that finishes behind the newly crowned champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.

“There’s not going to be space to feel sorry for ourselves because we understand the dynamics of the game well,” Riveiro said.

“Sometimes we have these types of games. If we must lose, let’s do it this way.

“We have an opportunity to have an objective analysis of the game and show to the players that we still performed in the same way as the previous seven games when we got the results. The only difference today is that we didn’t score.

Captain Simphiwe Mcineka of Richards Bay celebrates with teammates after beating Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

“We didn’t manage to put the ball in the back of the net like in the previous game. But everything else – the concentration, the pace, desire, the level of aggression – was there.”

Despite going into the match on form and high on confidence, Riveiro knew that it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park against the Natal Rich Boys.

Coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi’s troops entered Orlando in need of three points as well, as that was going to give them breathing space from the drop zone, relegating Cape Town Spurs in the process. And that proved to be the case, with Bay achieving their target as they’ve now set their sights on moving away from 15th place and leapfrogging Royal AM.

“Everybody is playing for something and some of the targets are bigger than others … and the points usually in the last part of the season are very expensive,” Riveiro explained.

“(Saturday) was proof of that: Swallows (beating Stellies) and us (losing to Bay).

“This is complicated. We know it, but the same way it’s complicated for us, it’s complicated for our opponents as well to deal with us in the last two games.”

Pirates will play three ‘finals’ before the season ends: league games against TS Galaxy and SuperSport United, and the Nedbank Cup final against Sundowns on June 1.

“We played a final and we lost,” Riveiro said. “We have another final Saturday in Mbombela and another final here on the last day of the league season against SuperSport.

“We are playing for something that’s important for our club, so we must give our all, playing good or not. And that’s what they did.

“We are at peace with ourselves in that sense. There are a lot of things to improve, but the desire to get the three points was there, and that’s the most important thing.”