Riveiro ecstatic Bucs are back in Champions League

Coach regrets gap between them and Sundowns in log

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Patrick Maswanganyi of Pirates jostles with a SuperSport player on Saturday.
Patrick Maswanganyi of Pirates jostles with a SuperSport player on Saturday.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

As pleased as he's that they've qualified for the CAF Champions League, Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro is disconcerted by the reality that they trailed champions Mamelodi Sundowns by 23 points, insisting they mustn't celebrate being runners-up.

Pirates ended up finishing as runners-up after their 1-all draw against SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium on the final day of the league campaign at the weekend. Taking his tally to 16 to scoop the Golden Boot, Tshegofatso Mabana was on target for Pirates, while Gape Moralo netted for Matsatsantsa.

What helped Bucs to finish second despite the draw is that Stellenbosch lost 2-1 to Richards Bay in a synchronised tie. Pirates' last game of the season is the Nedbank Cup final versus Sundowns at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

"It's fantastic that Pirates are going to be in the Champions League again next season. I am very proud that Pirates will represent SA on the continent, hopefully we will do better than last time [this season they were eliminated by less-fancied Botswana side Jwaneng Galaxy in the second preliminary round],'' Riveiro said.

"I think we shouldn't undermine what it means to be in the Champions League but we're not celebrating to be second...we're celebrating to be in the Champions League. We've got the right to be there and it's something very important for the club but being second, 23 points behind the first one, is not a huge achievement."

The Spaniard added that Pirates' objective is to narrow the gap between them and Sundowns, who've now won seven league titles on the trot. Riveiro knows it'll take something special to stop the Tshwane giants 

"Our objective from now is to see how we can reduce that gap with whoever is there, leading the log. It's too much distance between the first and the second position,'' Riveiro said.

"Even though I've said it many times that we're fighting with a team that's not famous for dropping points frequently but there are things we can control like the last two games where we had an opportunity to consolidate the second spot but gave away the points like we did [when they lost to Bay and Galaxy home and away respectively]."


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