- Riveiro guided Pirates to a Caf CL spot
- Could also end the season with a double
- Doubters change their perception of him
WHAT HAPPENED? In the early stages of the season, Sebola doubted Riveiro, but he has now changed his views about the Pirates coach. The Spaniard arrived in South Africa at the end of June to take up his first job in Africa.
No one knew him in South Africa and he had no track record of winning trophies in his previous jobs. But two months into the season, Riveiro guided Pirates to the MTN8 title, before helping them return to the Caf Champions League by finishing the Premier Soccer League campaign as runners-up to champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Buccaneers could now end the term with a double if they win Saturday’s Nedbank Cup final against Sekhukhune United.
WHAT SEBOLA SAID: “Having been called a plumber and all, he didn’t do too badly because he’s won a Cup and could win another,” Sebola told Sowetan Live.
“He also got Pirates back into the Champions League. There’s something he’s building there. He has got Pirates playing good football. I guess he needed time to adjust."
AND WHAT MORE? Already looking ahead, Sebola urges Pirates to follow Sundowns' way of undoing things in trying to balance between the PSL and Champions League football next season.
“You’ve seen how Sundowns have done over the years,” added Sebola.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: While Riveiro has already proved that he is not a plumber as thought by some before the start of the season, a bigger task awaits him next term.
Participation in the Champions League would be a different challenge for the Spaniard, who must navigate how to get past more formidable opponents around the continent. This is a space Sundowns have been struggling to thrive in since 2016, despite heavy investment in players.
It is to be seen how Riveiro will go about his transfer business as he tries to build a stronger squad fit for the Champions League. Judging from this season's transfers, the Pirates coach made mistakes in players like Bienvenu Eva Nga and Ndumiso Mabena but was spot-on in some acquisitions, as well as retaining Thabang Monare and Terrence Dzvukamanja, who were on their way out of the club.
WHAT NEXT FOR PIRATES? Saturday is a day that could make Riveiro's season more successful if they win the Nedbank Cup in the final against Sekhukhune.
After that match, the Buccaneers will head to the off-season break as players recharge their batteries after a hectic season.