Football

‘THE NEDBANK CUP IS AN IMPORTANT TROPHY’-RIVERIO

PIC: Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro

Orlando Pirates tactician Jose Riveiro is hoping to become the second coach to retain the Nedbank Cup after claiming victory in his maiden season in South African football in 2022/23.
The Spanish coach has the Midas touch in cup competitions, having also claimed two MTN8 titles in successive years. The only domestic knockout trophy he has so far missed put on in almost two seasons in South Africa is the Carling Knockout.

Stuart Baxter won back-to-back Nedbank Cup titles with SuperSport United in 2016 and 2017, and Riveiro is plotting the same, but faces a difficult trip to AmaZulu in the quarterfinals on Saturday, where compatriot Pablo Franco is in charge.

“(Retaining the Nedbank Cup) is very important because it is South Africa’s top cup. The Nedbank Cup is an important trophy and every team who participates in the competition wants to go to the final at least,” Riveiro said.

“This cup is very important to everyone at the club, the players and coaching staff. We are all focused on this tournament and we will try (to win it) again.”
A big boost to Pirates’ chances is the return to form of striker Tshegofatso Mabasa, who has spent much of the previous 18 months on loan away from the club, but returned in January and has hit the ground running.
That includes three goals in two games in the Nedbank Cup, making him joint top-scorer so far this campaign. He has six goals in his last four games in all competitions. 

“When I arrived, Tshego was not with us. This is my first time with Tshego,” Riveiro says. “We had eight number nines the first time I put my feet on the Pirates training ground and Tshego was not one of them. The reasons? I cannot tell you, but they are probably related to his performance.

“So I don’t really know if he was in a different space or he asked for the loan because he wanted to be on the field more consistently and at Pirates at the time it was difficult, I don’t know.

“What I know is that he is back, he is performing at a good level. He’s helping us to play better, not only score goals. I don’t only look at our striker because he’s scoring goals or not. The goals are very welcome, obviously, but there’s a lot more things to do on the field before we score a goal.

“Hopefully he continues in the same space and in the same shape because it’s nice to see a player of his talent perform in this way.”
Pirates have won five of their seven Nedbank Cup quarterfinals since 2008, losing to Sundowns in 2010 and 2021. No other team has managed to oust them at this stage.

They have had handsome wins over lower league teams in the competition so far this season, beating fourth-tier Crystal Lake 6-0 and second-tier Hungry Lions 4-0.

Pirates defeated Sekhukhune United 2-1 in an entertaining Nedbank Cup decider at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

They also claimed Nedbank Cup wins in 2011 and 2014 as they beat second-tier Black Leopards in the final 13 years ago and then went on to defeat BidVest Wits in the decider three years later. Both those were by 3-1 scorelines. They lost back-to-back finals in 2016 and 2017 to SuperSport United as well.

SOURCED FROM THE NEDBANK CUP WEBSITE.

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