CAPE TOWN – The big day is out of the way, and Giovanni Solinas can now let out a sigh of relief.
The new Kaizer Chiefs coach more than survived his first baptism of fire in the job in as big a match as they come – against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The 1-1 result, away from home at Loftus Versfeld, is a valuable outcome for Solinas and the Amakhosi, considering the tumultuous end to the Steve Komphela reign last season.
Here we look at why Chiefs and Solinas will be delighted with taking a point off Sundowns…
1 Solinas hasn’t been in the dug-out until now
It was the first game on the touchline for the Italian at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. While he would’ve been involved in the preparations in the build-up to all the pre-season games, his late arrival at Naturena means that he hasn’t been able to put his stamp on the team.
Yet, he took a point off Pitso Mosimane’s star-studded side.
2 So many attacking options
Wherever you look, there is a goal-scorer in a gold-and-black jersey – Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat, Gustavo Paez, Bernard Parker – and who knows, maybe the new arrival from Madagascar, ‘Dax’, too.
Chiefs fans will hope Solinas gets the right blend, and to make matters even rosier among the scoring options, it was a defender in Ramahlwe Mphahlele who netted against Sundowns.
3 A soft penalty
The way New Zealand striker Jeremy Brockie went down in the penalty area for a “challenge” by Daniel Cardoso wouldn’t have gone well in All Black country. It was hardly a rugby tackle at the home of the Blue Bulls.
But the positive for Chiefs is that such a soft penalty was the only way Sundowns could score.
4 Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya at left back
Many Amakhosi fans would’ve wondered if there is life after Tsepo Masilela, and Ntiya-Ntiya gave a glimpse into the future.
Yes, Gaston Sirino and Co were a handful, but the fact that Chiefs only gave away a penalty in defence would’ve filled Ntiya-Ntiya with great confidence going forward.
Important notice for @KaizerChiefs fans wanting to attend their next match against @BidvestWits at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday night (tomorrow) #AbsaPrem #Amakhosi4Life #KaizerChiefs https://t.co/NMNnVy2rBl
5 Rattled Pitso Mosimane
It was one thing being cold with Robert Marawa in the pre- and post-match interviews, but for the Sundowns coach to get involved in the Man of the Match award was a bit much.
Mosimane is a champion coach, and perhaps due to that winning mentality, it’s difficult when he drops points.
But to ask Marawa who chooses the Man of the Match – because his former star Khama Billiat got the award, and adding “What did he do?” – was in poor taste.