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Pirates ship primed to plunder Sundowns


Sundowns have seemingly been rocked in the lead-up to the 2024/25 season with internal feuds said to have led to the departure of their head coach, Rulani Mokwena.

Jose Riveiro, coach of Orlando Pirates during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 match between Orlando Pirates and Chippa United at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto on the 08 May 2024 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

IT HAS been just over 12 years since the ‘Happy People’ of Orlando Pirates ruled over South African football and they may just be on the verge of pouring stardust on The Ghost.

The days of the former coach Ruud Krol’s famous pink shirt and the historic double-treble-winning team of 2010 to 2012 seem to have happened decades ago as the Buccaneers continue to chase the ultimate prize.

The Sea Robbers have won six trophies since 2013, three Nedbank Cups as well as three MTN8 crowns, therefore it’s fair to say they haven’t completely fallen off like their next-door neighbours in Soweto.

Now under the tutelage of “The Spanish Guitar” Jose Riveiro, Pirates have claimed back-to-back MTN8 and Nedbank Cup medals and are seemingly on the right track to becoming the champions of the land.

Sure, there is a small matter of the 23-point gap between Pirates and current undisputed DStv Premiership Champions Mamelodi Sundowns but recent developments have suggested Pirates may be closer than the points difference suggests.

The club has finished second on the log in back-to-back seasons now, inheriting the role of main challengers to the Brazilians.

However, Sundowns have seemingly been rocked in the lead-up to the 2024/25 season with internal feuds said to have led to the departure of their head coach, Rulani Mokwena.

The Chloorkop-based outfit has indicated that this decision was due to Mokwena’s inability to meet objectives set for him but there is no denying that the titanic Brazilian ship has been rocked.

Sundowns also reinstated Steve Komphela as their ‘senior coach’, having let him go at the start of last season, a move many have felt suggested confusion.

However, with our knowledge of Sundowns, they could easily romp to an eighth league title in a row next season as well as achieve their continental ambitions, but Pirates are more than allowed to see a gap of uncertainty to exploit.

Pirates have already confirmed the departures of the likes of Siyabonga Mpontshane, Thabang Monare and Kermit Erasmus alongside five other players over the age of 30.

These exits have suggested that Riveiro is eager to refresh his group and possibly attract individuals in their prime and ready to inject energy

and quality at just the right time to rip up what has been the Sundowns script for just over a decade now.

Alongside 24-year-old Thalente Mbatha, the club has also introduced Angolan winger Deivi “Gilberto” Viera, 23, to its ranks, a signal of intent and optimism.

Over the past two seasons, Riveiro has proven himself a serial cup winner by claiming four trophies with Pirates but has not hidden his desire to derail the Sundowns train in the battle for league honours.

Having shaken Sundowns, the 48-year-old mentor will be rubbing his hands at the prospect of his first league title and Pirates’ first since 2012.

The 2024/25 campaign could yet prove to be historic for Pirates should they reclaim the throne of South African football.

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