Orlando Pirates assembled a quality squad during the close season, which is why coach Jose Riveiro is confident he will hardly get his selection wrong.
ORLANDO Pirates assembled a quality squad during the close season, which is why coach Jose Riveiro is confident he will hardly get his selection wrong.
The Sea Robbers are starting to look like a team ready to challenge for all honours. They’ve won matches in the Premiership, MTN8 and Caf Champions League.
They sealed passage to the last round of the Champions League qualifiers, where they will face Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy, after beating Djabal Club d’Iconi of Comoros 4-0 on aggregate in the preliminary round.
Granted, the islanders are part-time footballers with no professional league in the Comoros, but Pirates left no stone unturned in the second leg on Friday in Orlando.
Zakhele Lepasa continued with his fine form from the first leg, where he scored the only goal of the game, as he racked up a brace in front of The Ghost, before Patrick Maswanganyi ensured Pirates comfortably won 3-0 on the night.
Riveiro stressed the importance of being mentally sharp for the Champions League, which presents mostly off-field challenges, but he is happy with the squad at his disposal.
“I must be fair and base my decisions on something – not just what I like. I need to know, and the knowledge is coming from training, process and what the players say during the week,” Riveiro said.
“The players have a chance to express themselves during the week – to say I am ready and on my best. So in a way, it’s difficult that I am going to make a wrong decision here, trust me.”
Maswanganyi might have only scored in his fifth match for Pirates, but he has already slotted into his role seamlessly.
His runs and silky touches have made a lot of defenders, both in domestic and continental football, quake in their boots. He has three assists to his name across three competitions as well.
But while Riveiro has lauded the integration of the 25-year-old attacker, he mentioned the importance of having a team that is blessed with quality players.
“For me, if I have to highlight anything about the new players, new in this environment and playing for Pirates is not an easy thing,” Riveiro said.
“To start showing the (required) level from the first day, the first game we played, is something to highlight. I’m happy to see the progression of the guy.
“It’s important to understand that he Maswanganyi) is surrounded by good players and that makes things a little bit easier for everyone in the team.”
Pirates are one of the most attack-minded teams in Africa and will look to take that momentum into their Premiership clash against Cape Town City in Orlando on Tuesda.
Riveiro is happy to see his players banging in the goals, given that it’s goals that win games.
Lepasa has scored eight times in six matches.
“The goal is the promised land in football. It’s what we are looking for,” said Riveiro.
“When you are in situations when you are creating and not scoring, everything is difficult.
“Narratives that the team is not scoring and that player is not scoring is an extra pressure and we must deal with it. No problem. But now it seems we are luckier in front of the goal, and hopefully we can improve that record game after game.”