From right, Hendrick Ekstein, Dumsani Zuma, Kabelo Mahlasela, Mario Booysen and Willard Katsande show their disappointment after Kaizer Chiefs lost to Orlando Pirates. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas has apologised to the Amakhosi fans after watching his team relinquish an early lead to go down 2-1 to Orlando Pirates in the Soweto Derby on Saturday.

Chiefs took the game by the scruff of the neck by scoring first, with a wonderful cross by left back Godfrey Walusimbi causing all sorts of problems in the Pirates box.

Buccaneers goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was initially beaten to the ball by Khama Billiat, who got a feint touch with his head, and Mpontshane was unable to hold on to the ball.

Billiat was able to tap it into the net, and it was 1-0 Chiefs after 16 minutes.

But Pirates came roaring back, and despite Justin Shonga missing a penalty that was well saved by Itumeleng Khune, the home side for this derby scored almost immediately afterwards.

Left back Innocent Maela jumped high to beat Khune with a header from a corner in the 28th minute to level the scores.

And before they knew, the Ghost could celebrate another goal, as Augustine Mulenga pounced on a poor clearance by Chiefs defender Mario Booysen, and found an unmarked Vincent Pule in the box, and the Bafana Bafana midfielder finished easily.

Try as they might, Chiefs were unable to get the equaliser. 

“Apologise to our supporters. This derby we lost. We started the game very well and led 1-0. After that, we lost the concentration,” Solinas told SuperSport TV after the match.

“We were too much soft defensively, and lost the concentration in the set-pieces, with the corner. We concede the goal.

“Second half, much, much better – more aggressive. The players performed well in the second half, and it is a pity, as we wanted to win this game for our supporters.

“So, apologise, but we continue fighting. In the future, we can improve.”

Kaizer Chiefs goal-scorer Khama Billiat chases the ball while Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele is in hot pursuit. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency/ANA

In a high-tempo affair, both teams had opportunities to find the back of the net, and Solinas believes the poor finishing cost his team at least a point.

He also explained the reasons why he took off both Billiat and Leonardo Castro.

“The fitness for Khama and Castro today is not at the top. They come from injuries, Castro said he can play 75 minutes maximum (and he was replaced by Ryan Moon).

“Khama Billiat also was a little bit tired, so I put another fresh player (Kabelo Mahlasela) for movement and pressing high,” Solinas said.

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune saved a penalty, but Orlando Pirates still beat him twice in the Soweto Derby. Photo: Itumeleng English/African News Agency/ANA

“We created the chances, but we need to convert them. We move on. We take a lesson from this derby. We are a work in progress.

“Some players need to improve their mentality. Take their emotions under control. This is the derby, the derby is in the mind. We need to stay focused for 95 minutes.”

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