Kermit Erasmus, Orlando PiratesBackpage

Orlando Pirates' Riveiro dons his Guardiola hat to plot Marumo Gallants downfall

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro took a page out of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola's manual in Saturday night's league clash against Marumo Gallants.

There were some unexpected selections made by Riveiro for the match against bottom-of-the-log side Gallants, as he made several changes to a team which had won its last two games.

It comes at a time when Pirates have been getting six or seven days between fixtures - which remains the same way throughout February - so this wasn't about changing things up for freshness.

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One big surprise was the decision to drop Kermit Erasmus to the bench. A big signing, and seen as the possible solution to Bucs' scoring challenges, the former Mamelodi Sundowns forward scored his first league goal for Pirates in what was his eighth appearance - in the previous game against Stellenbosch.

It was a much-needed goal and one might have thought that it would be a good idea to try and get Erasmus to build some momentum and confidence, rather than remaining an unused sub.

If there was any sort of knock, then Bucs have plenty of other striker options who did not even make the matchday squad, including Evidence Makgopa and Zakhele Lepasa.

Instead of employing a traditional striker, Riveiro did what Pep Guardiola (known for his unexpected tactical decisions) did quite a bit last season before the arrival of Erling Haaland - play with a bunch of attacking midfielders and wingers instead of a more recognised front-man.

In the end it worked well for the Bucs coach as the likes of Terrence Dzvukamanja, Monnapule Saleng, Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, Deon Hotto and Kabelo Dlamini combined well.

It was certainly a lovely bit of combination play from Dzvukamanja and Saleng for the first goal.

Dzvukamanja resurgence

Terrence Dzvukamanja, Orlando Pirates, October 2022Backpagepix

Until a few weeks ago, Dzvukamanja's future at the club looked bleak as he rarely got any gametime. But the Zimbabwean has bounced back with a goal and an assist in the last couple of weeks and seems to have rejuvenated his Bucs career.

It's rather like Saleng, who at one point was also a peripheral figure.

Talking of peripheral figures, Bienvenu Eva Nga came on as a late sub for some rare action, having fallen out of favour.

It does however make one wonder if there was a need for Pirates to have brought in even more attackers recently.
Because while options are good, it's still far from clear who Bucs' best front-line is, with so many possibilities and with strikers coming in and out of the team.

There will also likely be several forward players who are becoming frustrated at the lack of game-time and it remains to be seen if Pirates’ chopping and changing will work over the longer term and against tougher opponents.

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