Makgopa is doing excellent job, says Riveiro after striker nets derby winner
The 23-year-old boosts his chances of being back in Bafana Bafana for the Africa Cup of Nations
Evidence Makgopa boosted his chances of being drafted into the Bafana Bafana squad to play in the Africa Cup of Nations in January with his goal that gave Orlando Pirates a 1-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in a sold-out Soweto derby at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
The gangling 23-year-old striker has struggled for game time since joining Pirates from Baroka FC at the beginning of last season, but of late Jose Riveiro has been preferring him over Zakhele Lepasa.
Makgopa’s winner on Saturday was his second goal in the league this season. Bafana coach Hugo Broos, who relied so much on the striker when he arrived to coach the national team in June 2021, has hinted he might bring Makgopa back into his squad if he keeps his place in Pirates’ starting XI.
Makgopa has scored three goals in nine matches for Bafana.
“I’m very happy the coach [Riveiro] gives him confidence that he plays because [after transferring] from Baroka to Pirates [in June 2022] he didn’t play so much. For him the most important thing now is to stay in the team and play the games in the next weeks.
“Then we’ll see for Afcon if he’s a candidate to be with us in Ivory Coast or not,” Broos said of Makgopa on Friday when he announced his squad to face Benin and Rwanda in Bafana's 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifiers on November 18 and 21.
Makgopa has featured in seven of Pirates’ 10 Premiership matches this season. On Saturday his goal gave Bucs their first win over Chiefs in six league encounters. Pirates had lost their last five league matches against Amakhosi.
Riveiro said Makgopa is showing maturity in his game. He said sometimes young strikers have to be shielded from the pressure that comes with being asked to score goals regularly at a big club.
“He scored one goal [in Bucs’ 2-1 loss away to Cape Town Spurs on November 1] and now he scores in a derby,” Riveiro said of Makgopa. “Now he’s going to be there on the [record] books forever.
“It’s going to be a good boost for the boy but in general I think it doesn’t make so much sense to play an SA player as a striker when he’s 21 or 22. He’s an interesting prospect and I think we need to protect the young players and try to create a proper atmosphere for them so they can develop themselves.
“It’s good for SA football and it’s good for your national team that instead of creating uncomfortable moments for young players because maybe we want to see our favourites there on the field, we need to support the players and I think Evidence is doing an excellent job.”
Pirates’ victory over Chiefs moved them to seventh spot in the Premiership but still nine points adrift of log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played eight games to Bucs’ nine.
Pirates have a two-week break before they play their next league match against Richards Bay FC in Durban on November 25. Bay are the team that knocked Bucs out in the quarterfinals of the Carling Knockout Cup recently.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.