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Terse Riveiro out of answers after Pirates capitulate to Sekhukhune

Marc Strydom Digital Sports Editor
Thabiso Lebitso of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Asekho Tiwani of Sekhukhune United in the DStv Premiership match at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.
Thabiso Lebitso of Orlando Pirates is challenged by Asekho Tiwani of Sekhukhune United in the DStv Premiership match at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Jose Riveiro was disappointed his team lacked rhythm early on, in a period where they conceded an opener that left them chasing the game in their 2-1 DStv Premiership defeat to Sekhukhune United at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.

Pirates' coach rued his team’s missed chances and suggested they also might have had a penalty awarded early in the second half when striker Tshegofatso Mabasa went down under the challenge of Nyiko Mobbie in the box with the score at 1-0 to United.

A terse Riveiro seemed irritated to be questioned on Bucs’ lack of consistency in results that sees them in fourth place (Sekhukhune went to third) going into the final third of the season.

Pirates are 13 points behind runaway leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who are cantering to a seventh title in succession. Bucs had high hopes of a stronger challenge to Downs in 2023-24 than last campaign’s runners-up finish by 16 points. Saturday’s defeat seemed the final nail in the coffin for such aspirations.

Riveiro appeared not to have definitive answers for the inability of Bucs, who have won three of the last four cup trophies under the Spaniard, to mount a better offensive in the Premiership.

“A shy beginning of the game — even though we had all the time and space to progress through the central corridor we were very shy on the ball, just going to the sides,” Riveiro said, asked to for his summation of the match.

“On the sides it was very easy for Sekhukhune to stop us. So we were not playing at a rhythm that we were expected to at the beginning,

“After we conceded the goal there was a reaction in the team but we were already 1-0 down. I think after we conceded we were really superior to our opponent to the end.

“In the second half it was the same story but, again, we were passing through the central corridor to Mabasa but I don’t know exactly what happened there [with the penalty appeal].

“We conceded the second goal in one transition and from then it was the same story of the game — Pirates attacking, Sekhukhune kicking the ball away and wasting time.

“We tried our best, we had our chances and couldn’t put the ball in the net [and] this was the score, 2-1 — zero points for Pirates.”

Goals by Vusimuzi Mncube in the 32nd minute and Linda Mntambo in the 51st gave Sekhukhune a 2-0 lead before Mabasa pulled one back in the 56th. 

Whenever Pirates have tried to put together a string of results in their past two league campaigns they slip up in games where they should not.

Riveiro was asked if their inconsistency is a concern.

“It’s the first time we have lost a game in 2024,” was his terse, one-line answer.

In the league, before Saturday Bucs had drawn two games and won two of their four matches since the restart from the break for the Africa Cup of Nations. However in their last 10 games they have three defeats and have dropped 11 points from a possible 30.

The coach was asked about Bucs’ continued problems with finishing.

“It’s a scoring game,” he said. “They scored two, we scored one. That’s why we’re going home with zero points. That’s what I can tell you.

“I already summarised the game in the first question, so everything was there already.”

Pirates meet 13th-placed Moroka Swallows in an old Soweto derby at Dobsonville Stadium on Wednesday (7.30pm).

The Birds got a major boost in their relegation battle with a 1-0 win against last-placed Cape Town Spurs at Athlone Stadium on Sunday.