- Pirates are back in the Champions League
- Riveiro inspired by rivals Sundowns
- Bucs plan to go all the way next season
WHAT HAPPENED: Jose Riveiro helped Orlando Pirates qualify for the Caf Champions League for the first time since the 2018/19 season. The Buccaneers finished behind champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the Premier Soccer League and recently capped off an impressive season with a Nedbank Cup triumph over Sekhukhune United to add to their MTN8 crown.
Riveiro is looking forward to participating in the Champions League, where Downs have made it a habit to be involved as they have been present for the past decade. Sundowns, however, have struggled to reach the final since winning the so-called 'holy grail' in 2016. This season, Rhulani Mokwena's men bombed out in the semi-final and Riveiro wants to emulate Sundowns and take it up a gear.
WHAT WAS SAID: "We are going into Africa to dream that we have the potential to go all the way. I'm a very optimistic person, so I have the intention to win it. We know we will find difficult trips, difficult opponents, and difficulties from the referees, but Mamelodi Sundowns did a fantastic job in the competition and showed that it's possible for South African teams to compete," Riveiro told members of the media.
ON MIGUEL TIMM: The midfielder has been a revelation for Pirates this season and made sure to become a mainstay in the heart of the Sea Robbers' midfield. His coach has paid homage to his performances this season.
"Miguel has an excellent understanding of the game. He has the game in his brain and that helped him to reduce his own shortfalls. He's not the fastest player on the field, but his brain is quicker than the average player. And he used it to be in the right place today. I think both teams have that profile in the midfield, intelligent players," said Riveiro.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Pirates and Sundowns are the only sides that have won the Champions League, with the Buccaneers claiming their prize in 1995 while Downs picked up their first win about eight years ago. They wear the evidence of their achievement with a star placed above their crest. However, both sides have reached the final twice and the race is on to see who will be the first side to win a second star and claim the ultimate bragging rights.
WHAT'S NEXT?: Pirates will go into the off-season, but Riveiro says he will quickly get back to the drawing board to prepare before players reconvene for pre-season.