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Pressure off, now Orlando Pirates can write their own league story says Riveiro

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Pirates will have a chance to avenge themselves in this season’s first edition of the biggest sporting event in the country at the FNB Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

Jose Riveiro, coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

A VICTORY for Orlando Pirates against arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday could very well launch the first chapter of the story that coach Jose Riveiro wants to write in the league.

Riveiro had a debut season to remember at Pirates as he guided the team to the MTN8, Nedbank Cup and a second-place finish in the DStv Premiership.

But while that appeased The Ghost, the team’s back-to-back losses to Chiefs in the Soweto derby took the gloss off the Spaniard’s start to life at Pirates.

Not all is lost, though. Pirates will have a chance to avenge themselves in this season’s first edition of the biggest sporting event in the country at the FNB Stadium on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

This is a match that both teams will want to win at all costs, having endured tough times in recent weeks, including crashing out of the Carling Knockout Cup.

“I am not happy to be out of the Champions League or Carling Knockout. But once you are not there, it’s an opportunity to focus on the league,” Riveiro said.

“I’ve said it many times – the league is the most important competition. Maybe someone can feel the Champions League is the most important.”

Two days ago, the Buccaneers returned to winning ways in the league after a four-game winless run as they beat Sekhukhune United 1-0 via a Thabiso Monyane strike.

Riveiro must have felt a huge sigh of relief, with the pressure having started to mount on him. That’s why the Spaniard will want to build on that game in the derby.

“It’s not an excuse – the schedule is what it is. We accepted that from the beginning.

“But it’s difficult to prepare yourself mentally (for the different competitions),” he said.

“It’s not easy. But we need to do better, because Pirates will always be in the mix of all competitions early in the season. So participation alone is not enough … we must win.

“But now (with a less hectic schedule), we have an opportunity to put all our energies in the league and start to write our own story in the competition as well.”

Pirates are already trailing log leaders Sundowns by 12 points and have played one game more, but football has proven that it’s fickle at the top.

Riveiro will be happy that his troops scored and kept a clean sheet against Babina Noko this week.

“We improved in the scoring because in the previous game, we struggled to find the back of the net. And probably that was the main difference tonight,” Riveiro said.

“The first half was at the level of the previous matches – I think we played good football … They (the players) are trying and doing everything: that’s why I am proud of them.

“I said now in the locker room, it’s amazing that they are still insisting on the things that we want to do after three or four results that weren’t easy for us.”

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