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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist


OPINION – Is Riveiro the right man to lead Pirates to DStv Premiership glory?

Why can't the club be as consistent in the league as they have been in cup competitions?


The more I listen to Orlando Pirates coach José Riveiro, the more I think that he might not be the one to deliver the DStv Premiership trophy to the Buccaneers.

This week, he literally denied that his side has been inconsistent this season. Not only that, but he called Mamelodi Sundowns a ‘points machine’ in a statement that could easily be seen as him giving up on ever breaking their stranglehold in the league. 

The Soweto giants have been inconsistent this season and there’s no other way to sugarcoat it. Riveiro might not agree with the aforementioned statement but reality is that they haven’t been good enough to close the gap on log leaders Sundowns. Being 15 points behind the Brazilians, who have three games in hand is proof, that Pirates have flattered to deceive in this campaign.

The argument that in years gone by 60 points was enough to win the league doesn’t hold anymore. Pirates ended on 54 points last year but guess what? The bar has been raised. They still finished 16 points behind Sundowns and the gap might be bigger this season.

The subtle insinuations that Masandawana are collecting points because of other forces outside the pitch won’t bring back the league trophy to Pirates either. Why can’t the club be as consistent in the league as they have been in cup competitions?.

Slip-ups aplenty

After all, the same referees who officiate for the ‘points machine’ that is Sundowns are the same officials who handle cup games. Riveiro needs to turn the mighty Bucs from being cup specialists into a points machine too. If Pirates hadn’t dropped points against Cape Town Spurs on two occasions and picked up wins against Moroka Swallows, Sekhukhune United, Stellenbosch FC and SuperSport United, they would be closer to Sundowns.

That is just a tip of the iceberg because there are more games where Riveiro and his troops let the Sea Robbers down. There was a draw at home to Polokwane City and the away stalemate to Richards Bay who are fighting relegation. This inconsistency is not going to win championships because the league is a marathon and not a sprint like cup competitions.

Riveiro has done more good than harm since his arrival at the Soweto giants. June marks two years since the Spaniards took over the reins at the Buccaneers. During this period, he has delivered three cup competitions, twice winning the MTN8 Cup and the Nedbank Cup.

That is an excellent return by any standards and I have in the past given the 48-year-old credit for turning the club’s fortunes around in such a short space of time. Ultimately, however, winning the league is where great coaches are judged on. The hallmark of a great coach is the one who galvanises his troops to go to war over a period of 30 premiership games.