Why Riveiro stuck to his tried and trusted

Bench ‘not ready’

- By Sihle Ndebele

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has defended his decision to persist with the same XI over two Carling Black Label clashes against Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium at the weekend, saying the players he didn’t use weren’t ready.

After beating bitter foes Chiefs 6-5 on penalties at midday, Riveiro hardly tweaked his line-up for the final against Sundowns in the afternoon. The Spaniard’s decision backfired as it was clear his troops were fatigued, ending up being humiliated 4-0 by the Brazillian­s, who played a refreshed line-up.

Pirates were dealt a huge blow when centre-back Tapelo Xoki was sent off for a careerthre­atening tackle on Haashim Domingo early in the first stanza.

“I wasn’t tempted to completely change the XI. It’ sa particular tournament where you can use the rules the way you want ... you can do a lot of substituti­ons.

You can have 25 players in the match-day squad [but] the players aren’t electronic devices that you can plug in and charge the battery and they are ready to play. All of them have different issues,” said Riveiro.

“The fact that you have players on the bench doesn’t mean they are ready to play for different circumstan­ces that I am not going to open up about to you, so we had to soldier on with what we had.”

From the 11 players that beat AmaZulu 3-0 in the morning, only Thapelo Morena, Grant Kekana and Aubrey Modiba retained their slots for the Brazilians in the final, meaning they made eight changes while Pirates made only four changes from the line-up that drew goalless against Chiefs before winning on penalties.

Fortune Makaringe, Kermit Erasmus, Bandile Shandu and Monnapule Saleng who had started against Chiefs saw their spots being taken by Kabelo Dlamini, Bienvenu Eva Nga, Ntsako Makhubela and Vincent Pule. Kwame Peprah and Tebogo Tlolane were the only two senior players who were not given a chance despite being on the bench, while Evidence Makgopa and Collins Makgaka played for just a few minutes.*

 ?? LEE WARREN/ GALLO IMAGES / ?? Neverdie Makhubela of Pirates and Bradley Ralani of Sundowns during Saturday’s final.
LEE WARREN/ GALLO IMAGES / Neverdie Makhubela of Pirates and Bradley Ralani of Sundowns during Saturday’s final.

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