Giovanni Solinas' players are beginning to understand his methods. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

I don’t remember any Kaizer Chiefs coach having this much fun while at the same time being under this much pressure.

When they talk about a man with nerves of steel, they probably had Giovanni Solinas in mind.

The Italian has been in charge for a total of 11 matches, and it’s quite possibly the best time of his life as a coach.

And why shouldn’t he be on cloud nine? Think about it. About a year ago, at least when one considers the 12 months that is unaccounted for in his CV, Solinas was unemployed.

It appears he had not taken full advantage of his opportunities in Saudi Arabia and here in South Africa from his two spells with Free State Stars.

I imagine when he got the call to pack his bags and head straight to Naturena to lead one of the continent’s biggest clubs, he took the first flight out of oblivion.

By many accounts, it was an underwhelming appointment.

Chiefs had since the end of April to replace Steve Komphela following his resignation, but their preferred targets proved so elusive that Solinas was the only available candidate on the eve of pre-season.

As a result, the slow and poor start was expected, taking the coach five matches to manage his first Absa Premiership win.

Now that he has finally got that monkey off his back, Solinas is proving to be the eccentric coach that Amakhosi haven’t had in a while.

Vladimir Vermezovic, who was the Chiefs coach between 2009 and 2012, comes close, but the Serbian was a little loco than unconventional. 

Solinas’ brave side has been in full view over the last week or so – launched into the wild soon after that first league victory, which came away to Cape Town City in an emphatic 4-1 triumph that remains among the best Chiefs performances of the season so far.

A lot of coaches in his shoes would want to build momentum, keep pretty much the same team and consolidate in an effort to catch up to their rivals, given the tepid start to the campaign.

But not Solinas.

It’s now well-documented that the Amakhosi mentor rang as many as seven changes in the next fixture at Goble Park and still got the three points.

AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson had also made the trip to Bethlehem to watch Chiefs against Free State Stars as part of his preparation for his side’s visit to FNB Stadium a few days later.

But the fact that they, too, were taken apart by the Solinas machine suggests he was thrown off by the Italian’s game plan.

Even in that home game, the Chiefs coach made another six changes, restoring the ‘regulars’ back into the starting line-up and ensuring Amakhosi won a third successive match to remain just a point behind log leaders Orlando Pirates.

A colleague remarked that perhaps Solinas is enjoying this dream job so much he is hell-bent on taking as many risks as possible to not ever have any regrets.

I pity Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama ,because he is the next coach who has to figure out if Solinas in fact has his starting XI nailed yet.

For all we know, there could be eight changes to the team that beat AmaZulu, with only goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, midfield hardman Willard Katsande and Solinas’ blue-eyed boy Khama Billiat as survivors.

But while this really is a breath of fresh air, whether it ends in tears of incredible success is another debate.

The truth is, after the calmness and measure of Komphela over the last three years, Chiefs needed a coach who is almost the exact opposite.  


The Star

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