Riveiro hints Pirates ‘not that far off Sundowns’ level’

SOUTH Africa Orlando Pirates coach, Jose Riveiro has suggested the 23-point gap in the league between them and Mamelodi Sundowns painted a deceiving picture of how both teams are close to each other. The Bucs coach draws confidence from their recent Nedbank Cup final triumph over the Brazilians that they can take them on any day.

To defend their Nedbank Cup, Pirates beat Sundowns 2-1 in what was a sold-out affair at Mbombela Stadium last Saturday. Sipho Chaine saved Lucas Ribeiro’s penalty in the sixth minute.

Themba Zwane had put Sundowns ahead just six minutes before the hour mark, before Patrick Maswanganyi converted from 12-yard midway through the second half. Relebohile Mofokeng gave the Sea Robbers the trophy, netting the winning goal with virtually the last touch of the game in the 94th minute.

“I can say that we are not that far (off Sundowns’ level). I don’t think that the difference between these two teams is 23 points…it is (23 points) that’s the reality, but we can manage to compete, so it’s in our hands to keep this level of competitiveness week in week out, that’s the main thing we need to improve,” Riveiro said.

“We have to teach ourselves that if we put everything in place, we can compete with, I don’t want to say the best one because they (Sundowns) are not the champions this season on the continent, but one of the best, for sure, nobody has doubts about it and we can compete with them.

In the long run, we didn’t show that we can do it and that’s what we need to learn from these days (referring to Saturday).”

Sundowns trailed runners-up Pirates with 23 points to win what’s their seventh league title on the trot this season. However, Sundowns have now failed to beat Pirates’ Riveiro three times in cup competitions, having also lost the MTN8 final to them earlier this season.

Last season, Pirates eliminated Sundowns from the MTN8 in the semifinals. Riveiro has now won four trophies since joining the Sea Robbers at the start of last season, also boasting a hundred percent winning record in domestic cup finals. (Source: www.sowetanlive.co.za)

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