- Xoki revealed how Riveiro has made them ‘comfortable’
- Defender lauded the coach’s personality & leadership style
- The Spanish coach is suspended for Pirates’ next two games
WHAT HAPPENED? Xoki lauded ‘father figure’ Riveiro for showing great leadership with his carrot and stick approach which has made the Pirates players ‘comfortable.’
The defender seemed to be defending his boss who has looked anything but calm in recent matches and has been handed a two-match touchline ban for using foul language towards the referee.
An irate Riveiro was sent off during Pirates’ Nedbank Cup Round of 32 clash against second tier side All Stars last weekend and will now miss Friday’s PSL encounter against Maritzburg United as well as the Soweto derby next week.
Pirates players will have step up in the absence of their coach in the two matches which are crucial to their hopes of finishing second and securing Champions League football next season.
The Spanish tactician has stamped his authority on the team since joining at the start of the 2022-23 campaign, turning them into a possession-based team, while insisting on fielding a consistent first XI despite the big squad at his disposal.
Riveiro has maintained that there will be no rotation at Pirates and while that might rub the non-regulars the wrong way, Xoki feels his style and personality are paying dividends.
WHAT DID HE SAY? “He is a great mentor, very cool head, very calm and a father figure in a way,” Xoki told iDiski Times.
“He will scold you when he needs to, but he always makes sure that you are comfortable as well. He does care about your state of being as a person more than being a footballer.
“So, he is someone who’s come with great leadership qualities together with his technical staff.
“All the coaches, goalkeeper coach, both assistant coaches and the fitness guys, everyone has been great for us in terms of leadership.
“They’ve made things easy for us. They keep us calm when things are not going our way, make us feel positive about the future even when we think we are in a crisis.
“They’ve never made us feel bad, they always make sure that you look at the positive and we follow the process that we are on.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Pirates have one of the biggest squads in the PSL but Riveiro’s stance on rotation risks alienating some members of the team given they are only left competing in the PSL and Nedbank Cup and will need to unleash all their arsenal.
Thembinkosi Lorch’s sensational return to the squad last weekend has shown how competition for places should be intense and it will be interesting to see how Riveiro fields his team given already new signing Makhehlene Makhaula has just received cameo appearances while Souaibou Marou, the other January arrival, is yet to make his Pirates debut.
WHAT’S NEXT? Pirates take on Maritzburg United at the Orlando Stadium on Friday.