Home Sport Jose Riveiro concedes Orlando Pirates’ title race is over

Jose Riveiro concedes Orlando Pirates’ title race is over

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Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has thrown in the towel on their DStv Premiership title aspirations

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has thrown in the towel on their DStv Premiership title aspirations. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has thrown in the towel on their DStv Premiership title aspirations following their rough patch in recent weeks.

Pirates drew 1-1 with Polokwane City in the league at Orlando Stadium on Friday night, as the Limpopo side equalised late through Given Mashikinya, which cancelled out Patrick Maswanganyi’s goal.

It was a catastrophic result that made a mockery of Riveiro’s pre-match talk that they could still close in on log leaders and serial champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Pirates, who have one game in hand, are 15 points behind the Brazilians, who are tipped to win a record seventh successive title.

Bold declaration

Having cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as he watched his team go three games without a win in the league, Riveiro made a bold declaration about their title hopes after the Polokwane encounter.

“No!” declared the Spaniard after he was asked whether it’s still possible for his team to challenge for the title this season.

Having seen his side struggle to string together victories in the league, Riveiro believes that scoring is the root of their problems, hence he’s not bothered by points for now.

“Concerned with the points? I cannot be concerned with the points. It’s something that’s abstract – a figure. So, I can’t be concerned,” Riveiro argued.

“I can be concerned about the things that we are not doing well, and need to be corrected during the week. We are not finding the goals as easy or frequent as we’d like to.

“That’s a handicap in a game like football. I am busy, not concerned, with problems. We must make sure that we get new problems in a game, not the old ones.”

In the early stages of the season, scoring was the least of Pirates’ issues – Zakhele Lepasa started the season with 10 goals in eight games.

Pirates strike force a bit blunt

But since his decline in form and his battle with an injury while on international duty, his fellow strikers have struggled to carry the scoring responsibilities.

That has seen Riveiro use either Kermit Erasmus or Evidence Makgopa in the No.9 role, but they have only made one goal contribution between them in the last three games.

But that’s not all. Injuries and form have also resulted in Riveiro tweaking his defensive unit in the past few games.

Olisa Ndah has been playing ahead of Nkosinathi Sibisi, who’s been demoted to the bench despite recovering from an MTN8 final injury against Sundowns. And in goals Melusi Buthelezi has ascended to the No.1 spot in the past three games in the absence of the injured Sipho Chaine.

Riveiro admitted he’s to be blamed for their defensive irregularities, like they suffered against Polokwane.

“Even though we dominated with stats, we were very exposed in transition. In the first half, they nearly scored the first goal of the game,” Riveiro explained.

“They needed to clear the transition. And that’s my responsibility … it should never happen. It’s one of the responsibilities that I must control, and it wasn’t.

“It was probably not well explained. So, I take the responsibility for that.

“It was not our best night. We didn’t carry the responsibilities very well or we didn’t understand.”

@Mihlalibaleka

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