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Orlando Pirates 2022-23 Season Review - Second Place and Two Trophies

30 May 2023
James O'Connor 30 May 2023
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  • Pirates finished second in the DSTV Premiership table under new coach Jose Riveiro
  • Bucs won the domestic cup double by lifting the MTN8 and Nedbank Cups
  • The Sea Robbers picked up 10 more points than in the 2021-22 campaign
jose riveiro
Spanish coach Jose Riveiro won two trophies with Pirates this season (Getty Images)

Did Orlando Pirates Meet Expectations?

By the end of the season, Pirates had CAF Champions League qualification and two trophies to their name. They exceeded expectations thanks to an excellent second half of the season. No team in the DSTV Premiership picked up more points from their final 15 matches than Pirates.

However, up until lifting the MTN8 Cup in November, there were serious doubts about the new coach. He has since won over the vast majority of the fanbase by getting results and scoring plenty of goals. 

The question is whether they can challenge for the league title next season. Having taken just 19 points from their first 15 league matches, they will need to start next season much better.

Player of the Season

Without a doubt, the best player was Monnapule Saleng. He was not in the picture in the opening nine matches of the season yet still finished up with 11 league goals and 15 strikes overall. He picked up 11 assists in all competitions. He was voted as the PSL Players' Player of the Season.

Other players who stood out were centre back Nkosinathi Sibisi, midfielder Miguel Timm and fullback Paseka Mako. Lots of players had strong runs of form including false nine Terrence Dzvukamanja and passing midfielder Thabang Monare. 

Performance of the Season

This is an easy one. Pirates thrashed Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 in the MTN8 semi-final second leg to reach the showpiece. It was a brilliant display on the day. A 4-1 thrashing of Stellenbosch FC in January was also among their best performances. They put up 2.20 xG and only allowed 0.30 xG.

In March, a 4-1 win at Swallows also made a statement about their ambitions to finish in the top two places. Monnapule Saleng netted a hattrick in that match.

Best New Signing

Three of Bucs’ signings were huge successes. Miguel Timm brought a controlling influence to central midfielder after his arrival from Marumo Gallants. Central defenders Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki also had a big impact and were regular starters from day one. 

Several signings didn’t make much impact at all. These include Craig Martin, Ndumiso Mabena and Souaibou Marou. They all struggled to get regular game time and the latter duo arrived in positions that were already overstocked. 

Main Areas of Improvement

For Pirates, it is about starting the season much more strongly in August. They need to get off to a flyer so Mamelodi Sundowns can’t pull away. 

Another key area of improvement needed is their results against the league’s better sides. They took 67% of their total points haul against the teams in the bottom half of the table. 

Upcoming Orlando Pirates Transfer Activity

Bucs have already secured the signing of TS Galaxy goalkeeper Melusi Buthelezi. He will add competition in goal but may not be the undisputed number one. 

Pirates could look to offload a number of fringe players. They have big decisions to make over several loanees including strikers Kwame Peprah, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Zakhele Lepasa.

Overall Season Summary – Orlando Pirates

It was a great season for Pirates, arguably their best in a decade. To lift two trophies was a brilliant achievement and they finished second which gives them a shot at the CAF Champions League next term. 

Jose Riveiro played a more attacking style as the game progressed, going from a back five out of possession to a 4-2-3-1. With some smart signings in the transfer window, they will hope to compete for next season’s DSTV Premiership crown.

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