Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has acknowledged that he has a huge task to remind Monnapule Saleng and Zakhele Lepasa of how good they were last season and during the early stages of this season.
This is due to both players being shadows of who they were, hardly starting matches of late, and worse for Saleng, who was named the Players’ Player of the Season last term.
The 25-year-old ended the 2022/23 campaign with 15 goals in 30 games in all competitions, along with 11 assists.
The last assist was key in seeing Pirates claim the double, setting up Terrence Dzvukamanja in the Nedbank Cup final against Sekhukhune United at Loftus Stadium in May.
He was also named MTN8 Last Man Standing as he scored the dipping free kick to see Bucs beat AmaZulu in the competition’s final, the best player in the Wafa Wafa Cup and claimed the Players’ Player of the Season, which is voted for by players in the premier division.
But none of those have been replicated, despite promising to replicate that this season to this publication.
The former Moroka Swallows winger was on the bench as Pirates beat Golden Arrows 2-1 at Mpumalanga Stadium.
Lepasa, who Pirates loaned to SuperSport United in January last season, started this term like a house of fire, scoring 10 goals between August and September.
But he has failed to add to those goals, with his last coming against Stellenbosch FC in the MTN8 first-leg semi-final.
“It is difficult, and it is not an easy part job,” admits Riveiro.
“But that is why we are here, because we need to show them that we can manage that part of the job, that part of the role.
“No player will accept to be on the bench, especially in our squad. But what is important in the end is the product, that of whoever is on the field, is getting us the results and supporting one another.
“It shows me that we are doing a good job together.
“Eventually, there is always going to be the situation, not bad behavior because they are behaving very well, but it is always up and down (in form). But obviously, when you get good results everything is very much easier.”
Pirates, who moved to third position with 25 points after 14 matches, will visit second-placed SuperSport United (26 points) at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday (17:45).