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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

OPINION: Why it’s premature for Riveiro to win the PSL Coach of the Season

Mokwena and his Sundowns team were miles ahead of every team this season and the facts are there for everyone to see.

Following Orlando Pirates’ 2-1 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup final, there are calls for José Riveiro to be named the PSL Coach of the Season.

The triumph at Mbombela Stadium meant that Buccaneers ended the 2023-2024 campaign with two pieces of silverware, having also bagged the MTN8 last year.

ALSO READ: Pirates’ Riveiro – I wish we could lose one game a season!

On the other side of the coin, the argument is that Rulani Mokwena should be the outright winner, by virtue of winning the DStv Premiership. Well, I don’t agree with either sentiment – if winning the league guaranteed walking away with the Coach of the Season award then what’s the point of having it in the place? Mokwena, Riveiro and Stellenbosch FC coach Steve Barker are all nominated for the gong.

Expect the debate to rage long after the winner is announced. The domestic league remains the big fish and any coach that manages to outsmart his counterparts to capture it should be a favourite for the coveted individual PSL award. However, I also think context should apply when judging a season because numbers don’t lie. They tell a story on who deserves it more and this season there was only one team that redefined the word consistency in South African football.

Mokwena and his Sundowns team were miles ahead of every team this season and the facts are there for everyone to see. The Brazilians finished the campaign 23 points ahead of second-placed Pirates and broke every PSL record in the process of their 29-game unbeaten run. It’s only in the last game of the season where they suffered the heartache of being denied the tag of invincibility. Mokwena deserves the accolade because of the manner in which his team won the league by literally brushing everyone aside except for Cape Town City on the last day of the campaign.

In my opinion, Riveiro’s case would be stronger if his side ran Sundowns close in the marathon that is the premiership. If they had given the league champions a run for their money and ended the season three points behind them on the log standings, then I would say the Spaniard should be given the prize. Picking up two trophies while challenging for league honours would have given him the edge but the Buccaneers hardly mounted any sort of challenge.

ALSO READ: Mbatha claims Downs were intimidated in the Nedbank Cup final

The truth of the matter is that the league is the hardest trophy to win anywhere around the world. If you asked Pirates fans to swap the two cup medals for the league title, a large majority of them would agree. Picking up four cups in two seasons since Riveiro took over is remarkable but the domestic league championship remains the bread and butter of every team. Calls for Riveiro to win the award ahead of Mokwena are premature. The gap is way too big for anyone to lay claim to the award other than Mokwena following a record-breaking season that delivered a record-extending seventh successive league title.