Boebie's heart will always be in Cape Town
Santos' loss has clearly been a major gain for Bidvest Wits, who have bounced straight back to the Castle Premiership under the astute guidance of Boebie Solomons.
Wits beat promotion hopefuls PJ Stars 3-0 at the weekend to seal their berth in the top flight with three games to spare.
Solomons, unceremoniously dumped by the People's Team two seasons ago after having contributed largely to the Cape side's best-ever spell in professional soccer, feels he has proved his versatility, having now also tasted success in the uncompromising environment that is the Mvela League.
Solomons helped Clive Barker lift the coveted BobSave trophy in the 2000/2001 season and won the league championship as Gordon Igesund's assistant a year later. He became the head coach the next season and duly guided the club to the Top Eight trophy and the Absa Cup.
However, a poor start to the next campaign saw his shares plummet and chairperson Goolam Allie roped in Dane Roald Poulsen as a head coach disguised as the club's new technical director. Solomons sensed the "betrayal" and was out of the door before anything could be settled amicably.
Santos have since not been anywhere near those dizzy heights. And, ironically, Roger de Sa, who Solomons replaced at Wits, has achieved 16 draws in 27 matches with Santos, a statistic that has the once-proud club struggling for a top-eight finish.
Did you at any stage fear that you'd not win promotion?
Not really. The thought never crossed my mind. My gut feeling was just positive throughout the season. The players knew the objective was to win promotion and their commitment and passion towards that goal was unwavering.
Which club is likely to join Wits in the Castle Premiership?
City Pillars looked very good to date, but they will find Vasco da Gama a strong challenger. The Vasco guys will probably kick themselves if they fail at the final hurdle yet again. They need to remain focused on the basics and not make rash decisions in selections and playing style.
Who was your best player?
It won't be fair to single out anyone as the entire squad played a huge part in the success. If you twist my arm, I would mention the contribution of Boitumelo Molenyane and Kenwyn Manuel. They scored most of the team's goals.
Will you lose any players on the way up and can Wits stay in the top flight?
There are one or two guys earmarked for a move, but that is something I encourage as one cannot stand in the way of footballers in search of greener pastures. But we'll be looking at our budget and then decide on strengthening certain areas in the hope of avoiding the drop in the first year. My aim is to get the club winning trophies within the next two to three seasons.
What was it like to have former Bafana Bafana star Eric Tinkler as your assistant?
Eric contributed a lot to the success, and it was great to be able to use him as a player when I needed some stability and leadership on the pitch.
Given the manner in which you were dumped, would you consider going back to Santos?
I am not one to live in the past, and my heart will always be in Cape Town. So, yes, I would certainly consider such a move in the future. For now, though, I want to do my best to see that Wits are again a force to be reckoned with in the big league.
How do you manage to be away from your family for so long?
It is very tough, but I could not disrupt my children's studies. My wife and I eventually worked out a system whereby we'd commute between the cities from time to time.