Orlando Pirates head coach Jose Riveiro says they played the game they dreamed about as he expressed his pride in his players performances against Mamelodi Sundowns.
Pirates secured a 3-0 win with Kermit Erasmus scoring in the seventh minute before Monnapule Saleng added two goals in the late stages of the second half as the reigning champions pushed men forward chasing the game.
Sundowns also ended the game with 10 men which their coach Manqoba Mngqithi suggested was tainted by what he deemed as an illegitimate opening goal. Riveiro admitted the opening goal was crucial to the outcome of the game as everything went exactly how they planned it.
“Well, we played a game that we dreamed about, one of the scenarios that we knew we could find during the 90 minutes which is getting the lead early in the first half and it happened, I think we played a good start to the game,” Riveiro said.
“We were aggressive against a good team, it’s difficult to press them, it’s difficult to be aggressive against Sundowns players who manage the ball very well. We were not defending at the height we were expecting to defend in the first half, we lost height very soon in our circulations.
“We needed to adjust that in the second half because we didn’t… I don’t remember situations when the ball was there… around good players, they obviously manage, it’s always the possibility to create chances to score. But I think the ball was more around our structure than inside of our structure [of how we wanted to play] in the first half.”
He continued: “In the second half we were a bit tired so we needed to consolidate and reinforce our central midfield a bit with [Ben] Motshwari and Goodman [Mosele] and with Zakhele [Lepasa] up front I think our probabilities to succeed in transition or isolated situations like it happened with the throw-in with the second goal, we knew that we’d have chances to finalise the game, and that happened.
“I said before, for me, we did almost the… I won’t say perfect performance but we did everything the game was asking for in the 90 minutes, outstanding performance from the guys, the way they prepared their minds to face the game was super and I’m a very proud coach tonight.”
Pirates now await the winner of the second leg semi-final between AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs to see who they will face in the final before the mid-season break for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.