Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro assured the club’s faithful that their team is on the right track and will come back stronger at the end of the break for the 2022 Fifa World Cup after they were humbled by Mamelodi Sundowns in the Carling Black Label Cup final.

The MTN8 champions were beaten 4-0 by Downs at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Pirates  beat Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs 6-5 on penalties in the earlier semifinal to meet Sundowns.

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Downs convincingly beat AmaZulu in the opening game of the gimmicky single-day friendly tournament where fans select the teams and also vote for the starting line-ups.

Riveiro insisted he was proud of how his players performed against Sundowns, where Bucs were reduced to 10 men after defender Thapelo Xoki was red-carded in the 20th  minute for a foul on Surprise Ralani.

“I definitely really think the future is going to be very interesting for the players and us as a group,” he said.

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“I’m really sure we’re going to have a decent time now to rest and to do something else with our lives, to spend more time with families and get our energy back soon and use the time before we start competing again on December 21.

“We’ll play against Sundowns [in the league] one more time. So far I’m really happy with the way we’re doing things. But there’s room to improve and you can be sure we’ll do it.”

Riveiro said Pirates will work on many aspects to improve their game during the break and key for him will be to match whatever game their opponents present.

“We’ll be working on whatever it means to play better. We need to be better in every department, better in every scenario.

“We need to be better when the opponent is pressing high, better when the opponent is sitting on their side. We need to be better when we cannot dominate the game with the ball and we need to be better in every scenario.

“We’ve been working together for four months with these players and I think we’re a better team than we were four months ago.”

Riveiro said it is difficult for him to anaylse Saturday’s competition because it is not every day that a professional team has to play two matches in one day.

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“It’s difficult to analyse a game that you play immediately after another game. The fact that we had to play with 10 players, obviously it’s an issue. There are many different reasons [we lost], but this time they are more particular.

“We couldn’t manage the numerical disadvantage, especially immediately after the red card. We lost control of the game and they had an excellent group of players attacking us and they got the advantage very quickly after the red card.”

Downs went to the break 3-0 up.

“But I’m really proud of the way the boys competed in the second half because we managed to be well organised again and didn’t suffer so much. But as I said, it’s a very particular game and I think both teams were very tired.

“I lost count of the players that our opponents had to substitute because of injuries and the rhythm of the game was really bad, really poor.

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“But like I said, I’m extremely proud of the way the guys behaved the whole week, from the time we won the [MTN8] final and how we managed to compete today. We played a beautiful derby [against Kaizer Chiefs in the semi] and got a right to be in the final.

“But it in the end it was too much for us. It was extra and we just have to move on.”


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