Pirates Coach Riveiro's Biggest Headache

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 23: Coach Jose Riveiro during the Orlando Pirates media open day at Rand Stadium on May 23, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 23: Coach Jose Riveiro during the Orlando Pirates media open day at Rand Stadium on May 23, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Orlando Pirates head coach Jose Riveiro will have one big decision to make ahead of Saturday's Nedbank Cup final against Sekhukhune United, with the rise of defender Sandile Mthethwa. 

Mthethwa has risen to the top of the list at Pirates, particularly after hitting the ground running in the Nedbank Cup. 

READ: Motaung: When Mathoho Was Replaced By A Mannequin

The 26-year old showed that he is ready for the pressure of playing for the Buccaneers after scoring the winning spot-kick in the penalty shootout win over Dondol Stars in the quarter-finals and then netted the winner in Pirates' semi-final extra-time win over rivals Kaizer Chiefs. 

Since then, Mthethwa, who was always used off the bench, had started in the 1-1 draw against Sekhukhune United in the league and a 4-0 win over AmaZulu, ahead of the final. 

Mthethwa says he has always been ready to step up when given a chance and described the feeling of scoring the winner against Chiefs. 

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"For me I've always felt like I'm important because you know there are injuries, the coach also has plans for me, maybe if there's a game he wants to use me, he'll use me," Mthethwa told journalists in the Nedbank Cup press conference. 

"For me it's always being ready to work for the club because it's not about me, it's about the club. So if I'm given a chance to play, I have to use it for the club and then individually it will just come, just like that. 

"As I was telling everyone who was congratulating me about the goal (against Chiefs), the happiness was not for me scoring the goal but was about winning, because we wanted to win that game. The happiness of me scoring the goal was after," he said. 

Mthethwa was loaned out to Richards Bay and Chippa United for at least six consecutive seasons and stated that after being finally given a chance, it feels like he has not been away. 

"It feels like I haven't gone for so long, because now I feel like I'm part of the Orlando Pirates family. With the minutes that I'm getting, I feel like I've been playing the whole season," he continued. 

"And for me I'm just grateful and happy for the chances that I get. I was always waiting for the chances that I'm getting. That's why I've been working hard at training so that when the opportunity comes I'm there to showcase my talent because I know what I'm capable of," he added. 

Riveiro will have to make a choice between Mthethwa, Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki in his centre-back pairing for the Nedbank Cup final line-up, after Sibisi and Xoki took turns in the last two games on the bench, with Mthethwa preferred. 

Which centre-back pairing do you think should start in the final? 

Let us know in the comments section below.

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