Home Sport Riveiro wants Pirates to present their ‘best version’ in final

Riveiro wants Pirates to present their ‘best version’ in final

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Having won their last three finals – two in the MTN8 and one in the Nedbank Cup – Riveiro knows all about winning cup finals in domestic football.

Jose Riveiro, coach of Orlando Pirates during the 2024 Nedbank Cup Final Press Conference at the Nedbank Offices, Sandton on the 30 May 2024. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Mihlali Baleka

Jose Riveiro has been here before, but he’s not naive to think his Orlando Pirates side will have another easy outing in a cup final.

The Pirates coach will guide his team in yet another title decider when they face Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup showdown at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

And having won their last three finals – two in the MTN8 and one in the Nedbank Cup – Riveiro knows all about winning cup finals in domestic football.

He also has the championship walk and pose to show for that – given how he addressed the media at the pre-match media conference at the Nedbank headquarters on Thursday.

The Spaniard entered the room like a champion, posing a confident figure en route to the podium as he nodded confidently instead of greeting nervously.

His decision to dress in the Bucs’ tracksuit instead of his usual casual wear also told of the comfort he feels ahead of such a big game in domestic football.

The 48-year-old is happy to be back where he wants to be – in another cup final – with his only blemish in cup competitions so far this season coming in the Carling Knockout.

“Yeah well, here we are again!” Riveiro said. “Another final, another extra week. As you can imagine, it’s a very exciting week.

“It’s the last week of the season, a week that is … very emotional for every team. It’s our last week together.

“They are usually different from one week to the other, but we have the opportunity to defend one of the trophies that we got last season.”

The Spaniard knows the threat posed by their opponents. The Brazilians, after all, were recently crowned champions of the land for an unprecedented seventh time in a row.

Add to that the fact that they only lost the last game of the season, after going unbeaten in 29 matches in the league.

Pirates laboured to a second-place finish, meanwhile, trailing the champions by a whopping 23 points.

Despite the gruelling domestic and continental schedule for the two teams, Riveiro still expects a thrilling contest in Mbombela on Saturday.

“This is the final, there’s nothing else after this – everybody knows the relevance of the match for various reasons,” Riveiro explained.

“There’s not going to be fatigue at all. I think we are both ready to play 90 minutes, or even more than 90 – there’ll be five subs on benches, so there’s going to be quality players ready to go.

“So, I think both teams are ready to play extra time because of the level of players that we are going to have on the bench as well.”

Sundowns and Pirates have formed an intense rivalry in the past 12 months, with the former winning both legs in the league, while they drew the MTN8 final, which Pirates won on penalties.

“I think we could agree easily that now this is the top game that you can play in this country,” Riveiro said.

“Both sides know about the difficulty of the task, so whoever really wants to win this final must apply himself one more time.

“Otherwise we are not going to make it, or they aren’t. They all know that we need each other’s best version on the pitch … I think it’s going to be a special one.”

A win for the Bucs could make Riveiro special to “The Ghost” and those close to the club, but he’s not putting himself first.

“Personally, I am aligned with the ambitions of the club, and my club,” Riveiro said. “There’s no more personal ambition than being in the final with my team, and having the opportunity to collect another trophy with my club.”

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