Orlando Pirates legend Lekoelea explains ‘problem’ with Xoki, Sibisi signings & Riveiro appointment

Tapelo Xoki, AmaZulu FC & Kwame Peprah, Orlando Pirates, December 2021Backpagepix

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Steve Lekoelea is not impressed by the signing of defenders Tapelo Xoki and Nkosinathi Sibisi as well as the appointment of Jose Riveiro as the new head coach.

The Buccaneers brought in centre-backs Xoki from AmaZulu as well as Sibisi from Golden Arrows while they also parted ways with the experienced duo of Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza.

Then on Saturday, they announced the surprise appointment of Spaniard Riveiro as their new head coach while demoting Mandla Ncikazi to the role of assistant coach.

"The problem with players that come from small teams, they tend to struggle to adjust at big teams because they don't believe in themselves," Lekoelea told Soccer Laduma.

"While some feel they've arrived, my advice to them is; never change your attitude because you are at Pirates. Be yourself and always ready to fight."

After Lekoelea describes Xoki and Sibisi as players coming from "small teams," he then touches on the new coach who arrives as a little-known.

Riveiro has never coached in Africa before and his only experience on the touchline is working in Finland since 2014.

He marks Pirates' return to the European market for a head coach after German Josef Zinnbauer left the club at the start of last season.

"We need a coach that will understand the structure and culture of the club," added Lekoelea.

"Orlando Pirates is a team that likes to attack. We have lost it in the past with European coaches that didn't understand the club and South African players."

Riveiro’s last job was head coach of Finnish side FC Inter Turku where his now Pirates assistant coach Sergio Almenara and fitness trainer Miguel Bellver Esteve were part of his backroom staff.

He takes over at Pirates with the club having already made other new signings in forwards Evidence Makgopa and Bienvenue Eva Nga as well as midfielder Miguel Timm and teenager Azola Matrose, who is believed to be staying at Chippa United on loan.

Having ushered in the new players and besides Hlatshwayo and Nyauza, Pirates have also offloaded Frank Mhango, Thabang Monare, Kwanda Mngonyama, Abel Mabaso, Justice Chabalala, Elson Sithole and goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.

The club had indicated Sandilands is “currently in discussions with management regarding another role at the club.”

Following the departure of Sjoerd Woudenberg last Thursday, Sandilands was expected to be appointed goalkeeper coach until the arrival of Damons.

Riveiro takes over the responsibility of guiding Pirates to a first league title since the 2011/12 season as well as helping them win a first continental trophy since they won the 1996 Caf Super Cup.

Pirates in the transfer market

Will all the signings made by Orlando Pirates help them end a long period without the PSL title?