Bucs have to win another sequel to keep pressure on Stellies

Chippa United co-coach Kwanele Kopo took umbrage at an alleged exchange between himself and Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro recently. | BackpagePix

Chippa United co-coach Kwanele Kopo took umbrage at an alleged exchange between himself and Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro recently. | BackpagePix

Published May 8, 2024



Another match day, another ‘muddied’ sequel that Orlando Pirates must win if they are going to keep their chances of finishing second in the DStv Premiership alive.

Pirates will host Chippa United in a league match in Orlando tonight, four days after the two teams met in the Nedbank Cup semi-final in Gqeberha. The Sea Robbers sailed into their second final of the season – where they’ll meet Mamelodi Sundowns in Mbombela on June 1 – having won 3-1.

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro. | BackpagePix

But while Pirates claimed the win, their coach Jose Riveiro didn’t show sportsmanship, according to his counterpart Kwanele Kopo, as he allegedly used ‘abusive league’.

Kopo was seething during his post-match media conference, claiming that the Spaniard used the F-word during heated exchanges.

It’s not the first time that Riveiro finds himself in such a situation. He endured the same pressure and obstacles going into their sequel against AmaZulu.

Pirates beat Usuthu 4-2 in the Nedbank Cup last eight. But coach Pablo Franco Martin accused Riveiro of encouraging his players to dive in the box, after Pirates were awarded a dubious penalty that turned the game on its head.

Pirates kept their heads above water in the sequel a week later, winning the league game 1-0 – amid another refereeing decision that raised eyebrows.

A win is a win, and Riveiro and his men will be focusing on bagging another when they host the Chilli Boys in a quest to keep the pressure on Stellenbosch. Stellies are holding onto the coveted second spot with 43 points, three ahead of Pirates who have only four games left to change the script.

“Stellenbosch is doing very well,” Riveiro explained.

“They are pushing us to the limit to make sure we don’t have a bad day until the end of the season. The way that Chippa is going to approach us is something that is not on my side – the opponent will decide that on the day.

“We were in a similar situation when we played AmaZulu in the Nedbank (Cup). A week later it was a tough game because after the first game, we knew each other better.”

Bienvenu Eva Nga will be out injured when Chippa United face Orlando Pirates on tonight. | BackpagePix

Pirates will also know that Chippa are limping with injuries and suspensions, something that could boost their chances of adding more salt to the cup wound. Goodman Mosele, Baraka Majogoro and Azola Ntsabo are out injured, while striker Bienvenu Eva Nga is suspended after getting a red card in the semis.

Chippa’s co-coach Kopo said he didn’t know what would happen tonight, after the heated exchanges in Gqeberha. However, he knows they’ll have to win the battle on the field, more than on the sidelines if they are going to try to reach the promised land: a top-eight finish.

And that’s why they’ll have to make do with what they have and snap their back-to-back losses, which include the league loss to AmaZulu, and do well in the last four games.

“We are really thin at the moment,” Kopo conceded.

“I think since coach Thabo (September) and I arrived, this past week has been tough in player availability.

“We don’t have a big squad. Mosele, Baraka and Azola have been out. (On Saturday) we lost Eva. We must tap into the DDC (DStv Diski Challenge) players, unfortunately.

“We have four league games – and 12 points – to play for. So, I think that opens opportunities for the other players to play. And that’s what we must focus on.”