More questions will be raised about Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas following his Soweto derby loss against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Solinas did himself no favours in his bid to win over the Chiefs fans by succumbing to defeat in his Soweto derby debut. However, it was more the manner in which Chiefs lost than the fact that Pirates had come from behind to garner victory that had Amakhosi fans up in arms.
Normally a 2-1 scoreline in a derby would not be a train smash, but given Chiefs’ recent form in all competitions, coupled with their performance at the FNB Stadium, one can forgive Chiefs fans for thinking, ‘Not again, not another Steve Komphela.’
Prior to delving into Chiefs’ current precarious position under their new coach, it is important to note the progress that has been made thus far under the Italian mentor.
Chiefs are playing more positive football, scoring goals and can be considered genuine contenders for the Absa Premiership title.
Detractors will note that the Naturena-based outfit are yet to break their trophy drought, failing to clinch the MTN8 Cup competition, suffering defeat to losing finalists SuperSport United.
Given that it takes only four games to lift the cup, are detractors justified in their criticism? All factors considered, yes and no.
Chiefs boss Kaizer Motuang made a valid point when he leapt to Solinas’ defence after the Italian mentor’s first Absa Premiership loss against Polokwane City.
‘You must bear in mind that the coach didn’t have the pre-season training with the team. He just came in and unfortunately the programme we had in August was very tight and hectic,’ he told Times Live.
By the sounds of it, Motuang wasn’t expecting Solinas to work miracles and clinch the MTN8 title on his first attempt, given his lack of preparation with the team.
Then came the Soweto derby: Solinas’ biggest task to date as coach of the Amakhosi – seven games after the loss to SuperSport in the MTN8 semi-finals.
Like that defeat, the Soweto derby loss is now water under the bridge, but given the magnitude of the clash and Pirates’ recent dominance over Chiefs, don’t expect the Buccaneers fans to remain mum about their victory.
Those who bore witness to the clash at the FNB Stadium can attest to the fact that Pirates were largely dominant.
Even after taking the lead courtesy of a strike by derby debutant Khama Billiat, Chiefs looked second best and it was a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ for Pirates, who despite missing a penalty through striker Justin Shonga, still emerged as victors after goals by Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule.
The most pressing matter that is likely to affect Solinas’ longevity at the club is that he hasn’t settled on his preferred starting XI, opting to chop and change his sides to appease the fans.
While it should be noted that Amakhosi have been unlucky with injuries to key players at crucial times, it does not excuse their toothless performances of late.
Chiefs’ close-fought victory against Black Leopards in the Telkom Knockout competition should have rung alarm bells. Without Billiat and Leonardo Castro in the starting XI, there seems to be no focal point in the Chiefs attack.
Chiefs are more than a third into their Absa Premiership season and find themselves in seventh position with 11 points amassed from a possible 33. Solinas won’t last for the duration of his contract if he continues to drop points with arguably one of the best Chiefs outfits in the last five years.
Komphela was given the luxury of time and failed to produce the results. I doubt Solinas will be given the same luxury.