Can Orlando Pirates survive a potential banana skin in Dondol Stars?
Cape Town – Orlando Pirates’ luck of the draw keeps running for them after they were drawn against lower-division opposition for the third time in the Nedbank Cup.
On Monday night, they were pitted against Dondol Stars, a Tshwane-based amateur club.
In the opening two rounds, they played National First Division sides Venda Football Academy and All Stars.
Pirates’ Spanish coach Jose Riveiro said it was difficult to plan a game when coming up against teams that did not enjoy regular television coverage.
On Saturday, Pirates needed extra time before Thembinkosi Lorch snatched the winner against Venda in their last-16 clash.
In their last-32 clash, Pirates needed over an hour to open the scoring against First Division midtable side All Stars, who eventually enjoyed as many shots of goal as Pirates.
“When you play against lower division teams, you can always learn lessons from them,” said Riveiro.
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“I take both games as part of our learning process. I’m a very optimistic person, and I told the players that these types of games throw up struggles and fights, but it is going to be an important part of our journey together.
“(Lower-division) teams always grow quicker in difficult situations like what we experienced. We play as a group, and the fans must understand that it is difficult to win a football game.
“We need to appreciate every victory. It is going to be a tough one as it has been for us. They are not here by chance, and it shows that they have been doing things well.
“It will be a challenge again to play an opponent who is not with us in the league, and they are highly motivated.”
Riveiro said he was more pleased with Pirates’ performances rather than the wins, and it made him feel optimistic about the future.
“We have not forgotten that we went through certain difficulties in recent games,” said Riveiro.
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“There are certain things that need to be fixed, and that will ensure that we perform better. We also need to execute better.
“It is going to be difficult times (playing against lower-division teams) for multiple reasons, and it is good to remember what we learned from clashes.
“In these matches (Premiership sides against lower-division clubs), players (from lower divisions) want to impress as a way to improve their careers. They get a boost from these matches and they want to show what they are capable of. It is a fantastic opportunity to showcase their talents.
“For the Premiership sides, it becomes complicated because not too much information is available on the opposition.
“We all have the option to be the champions in this competition.
“This is a difficult tournament. I have been reading and checking the history of this competition and it’s full of surprises, with a few seconddivision teams going to the final.”
Dondol Stars have become the third team from the Safa structures to reach the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals after Baroka FC (2011) and Summerfield Dynamos (2022).
Riveiro has already guided Pirates to success in the MTN8 five months ago, and should they survive their potential banana-skin clash against Dondol Stars, the Spaniard could brace himself for a double.
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